Reply from Alison Whiting
Policy Officer
Standerds and Ethics Team
The General Medical Council

12/12/05

In a statement at the time of the appeal court judgement, the President of the GMC, professor Sir Graeme Catto, said

“We have always said that causing patients to die from starvation and dehydration is absolutely unacceptable practice and unlawful. Today the court has reinforced our position on these points”

“This statement was widely reported in the national media as well as the medical press.I note that you would have liked to see the point reiterated in the GMC Today article. However, both the article and the guidance itself focus on good practice, rather than the ways in which doctors could harm their patients. Providing or withholding treatment with intent to cause death of a patient is illegal, and paragraph 8 of the guidance states that doctors must work within the law . Paragraph 9 emphasises that doctors have an ethical obligation to show respect for human life, to protect the health of their patients and to make the patient`s best interests their first concern . Deliberately causing the death of a patient by starvation or dehydration would not be consistent witj these principles, or the rest of the guidance.”

Yours sincerely etc