Pratchett condemns end-of-life care
Poor quality end-of life care in the UK is driving people to travel abroad to die and the UK needs to provide an alternative, author Sir Terry Pratchett has said.
Sir Terry, who has campaigned for a change to the law over assisted dying since being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2007, said care homes have the same connotations for some older people as workhouses used to have.
He said Thursday's report from the Commission on Assisted Dying, which he helped fund, did not go far enough. But he admitted there was little prospect of progress over the next few years.
The award-winning Discworld author said the poor quality of end-of-life care in the UK was leading to people travelling to the controversial Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, where he filmed the Choosing to Die documentary last year, to die.
While Sir Terry, 63, conceded he does not "necessarily agree with everything Dignitas stands for", he said: "I'm glad that it's there, because it's a spur. If you don't like people going to Dignitas, what can you provide them with here?
"And what you can provide them with is a certain amount of commonsense thinking. And I would say a declaration that somebody's life is their own and does not belong to the sodding Government."
The commission, chaired by former lord chancellor Lord Falconer, said that, under their proposals, a terminally-ill person would need to be able to take the medication themselves, as a clear sign their actions were voluntary.
One member of the 11-strong commission, the Reverend Canon Dr James Woodward, said he was unable to back its majority decision, saying it was not the right time to consider changing the law until a greater ethical, moral and social consensus had been generated on the issue.
Sir Terry said: "If you have to wait until everyone in the country is ready for something then nothing is ever going to change."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the report would help people come to conclusions on the issue of assisted suicide, but any vote on the law would be taken by MPs individually, not along "Government" lines.