Mobile euthanasia teams being considered by Dutch government
Plans to introduce mobile medical teams that can euthanise people in their own homes are being considered by the Dutch government.
By Simon Caldwell
11:59PM GMT 06 Dec 2011
The teams of doctors and nurses would be sent out from a clinic following a referral from the patient’s doctor.
The proposals were disclosed by Edith Schippers, the health minister.
In a written answer to questions from Christian Union MPs she said that mobile units “for patients who meet the criteria for euthanasia but whose doctors are unwilling to carry it out” was worthy of consideration.
“If the patient thinks it desirable, the doctor can refer him or her to a mobile team or clinic,” the minister wrote.
In her written answer Ms Schippers suggested that “extra expertise” could be summoned in complicated cases involving mental health problems or an inability to consent to euthanasia because of dementia.
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Dutch advocacy groups want to expand the eligibility criteria for euthanasia as well as open facilities specifically for euthanasia along the pattern of the Dignitas centre in Switzerland.
Hundreds of Britons have either made the journey to Switzerland to end their lives or registered with the clinic.
Phyllis Bowman, a pro-life campaigner in Britain, said that the proposals amounted to a “campaign to speed up euthanasia and to make it cheaper by doing it at home instead of in institutions”.
The Netherlands legalised euthanasia in 2001 in cases where patients are suffering unbearable pain due to illness with no hope of recovery.
Euthanasia is usually carried out by administering a strong sedative to put the patient in a coma, followed by a drug to stop breathing and cause death.
To qualify patients must convince two doctors they are making an informed choice in the face of unbearable suffering.
Dutch medics have been accused of practising euthanasia on demand.
A total of 21 people diagnosed as having early-stage dementia died at the hands of their doctors last year, according to the 2010 annual report on euthanasia.
The figures from last year also showed another year-on-year rise in cases with about 2,700 people choosing death by injection compared to 2,636 the year before.
A Dutch government spokesman said: “The greatest care has been taken to regulate care for patients who are suffering unbearably with no prospect of improvement.”
“Euthanasia may only be carried out at the explicit request of the patient.”