Media Watch 504

Law, ethics and end-of-life care: The policy and practice interface in England


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE NURSING | Inprint – Accessed 13 March 2017 – Palliative care (PC) aims neither to hasten nor postpone death, but instead offers support to people with advancing, incurable somatic illness... At the same time, individual nurses hold a wide range of views on euthanasia and end-of-life (EoL) care, whilst the care-giving in clinical practice occurs in a social context in accordance with local and national policy.1 Policy and practice must conform to the law, which defines liability in the EoL phase. However ... the law has primarily focused on the criminalisation of euthanasia and less on the complex issues involved in the “good death” concept. As a result, contemporary policy that helps to shape and direct EoL care faces a tension between EoL liability and the way in which PC is developing.2 The authors of this paper are not suggesting as a response to this tension that euthanasia should be legalised nor equating it with a “good death.” The central argument from the authors of this paper is different: that for EoL care to develop and progress, practice has to interface with law and policy to a greater extent. A better interface will facilitate policy and law to be shaped by the complexity and demands of practice decision-making, so allowing a better understanding of what the EoL process entails. This is not to suggest that all EoL issues should be driven singularly by PC practice, but that a better future for the EoL entails the linking of law, policy and practice.