Medical voices urge doctors to respect patients’ wishes about coronavirus

Sir Iain Chalmers left, Professor Wendy Savage centre, and Dr Henry Marsh right.

An article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has called upon healthcare professionals to respect their patients’ end-of-life wishes, and ensure that the rights of those receiving care are protected during coronavirus. The article, written by My Death, My Decision’s Medical Group, states that medics should not feel pressured into providing everyone with potentially futile treatments, if the effect of that treatment would be to merely prolong their suffering. 

The co-authors of the article are MDMD’s Associate Director Colin Brewer; Sir Iain Chalmers, the co-founder of the medical research Cochrane Collaboration; Dr Phil Hammond, the acclaimed physician and broadcaster; Dr Henry Marsh, the best-selling author and neurosurgeon; Professor David Nutt, the President of the European Brain Council – and Professor Wendy Savage, winner of the BMJ’s award for outstanding contribution to health and women’s rights advocate. 

Trevor Moore chair of the campaign group My Death, My Decision said: 

‘Coronavirus has already taken the lives of tens of thousands of people, leaving their family and friends to grieve at the same time as coming to terms with a changed world. It is essential, during such a difficult time, that the virus not be allowed to rob those facing intolerable and incurable suffering of their rights to say how they’d like to be cared for as well. There has never been a time when thinking about how we’d want to be treated in the final stages of our life has mattered more; nor, a moment when doctors and nurses should feel supported for upholding the wishes of their patients. In spite of these challenging times, the respect that we show towards a patient’s autonomy remains a defining quality of our healthcare system. We are pleased so many prominent medics have voiced their desire to protect it.’