The Ethics Committee is an advisory committee to the Executive Committee of the APM. The Committee examines and discusses ethical issues relating to palliative medicine, liaises and acts as a resource on ethical issues to the membership as well as other medical ethics committees and appropriate other bodies, and participates from time to time in ethical debate or media or other presentations on behalf of the APM following discussion with the President or, in his/her absence, another member of the Executive Committee.
Dr Tim Harlow
Dr Idris Baker
Dr Rosaleen Beattie
Dr Ian Cairns
Dr Craig Gannon
Prof Rob George
Dr Derek Willis
Dr Andrew Shuler
National Hospice Council Ethics Committee Chair
The Ethics Committee has produced a series of Position Statements on the following subjects, which may be downloaded here.
The Ethics Committee has also started to produce a series of Definitions, to explain some of the terms commonly used in palliative care. Brief Definitions may be viewed below, for quick reference, or click the links to view expanded Definitions for more detailed consideration.
All treatments in palliative care should be targeted at specific symptoms and where medication for symptom control is necessary the lowest effective dose must be used for the shortest practical time. Sedation in palliative care is the careful use of medication with sedative properties which is aimed at the relief of specific symptoms where diminishing awareness of refractory suffering is the only realistic and compassionate treatment possible where all realistic alternatives have proved impractical or unsuccessful. Sedation in palliative care is never an end in itself. Thus terms such as “deep palliative sedation” or “terminal sedation” which imply the sedation being an end in itself are best avoided. Click for expanded Definition of Sedation
Commission on Assisted Dying
The APM declined to participate in this commission, which does not have a formal mandate from government or Parliament. The APM had already given evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill previously, and responded to the Director of Public Prosecution’s consultation on his guidance more recently. This commission on assisted dying is funded by two individuals who are already known to be in favour of legalisation of assisted dying (Terry Pratchett and Bernard Lewis), and the relationship between these individuals and Demos (who are hosting this commission) was brokered by the campaigning organisation, Dignity in Dying. The independence of this commission is therefore debatable. Members can read the APM’s response to the invitation on the Documents page. Click the link above to read APM’s position statement on assisted dying.