Jul 052015

In 2012, thanks to an award from The Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, disabled actor and activist Liz Carr travelled to the then five countries where assisted suicide and/or euthanasia are legal ie Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in the USA, Oregon and Washington State.  (Assisted suicide is now also legal in the US state of Vermont and in Canada).


Liz is opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide and wanted to discover for herself how these laws work in practice and how, if at all, their existence changes the culture of a country.  She shares her discoveries in a two-part BBC World Service radio documentary entitled, “When Assisted Death is Legal” and which is available to listen to here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014dkq5


In under an hour of listening time, these programmes provide important new information and perspectives on this most difficult of topics.  For example:


* In Luxembourg, Jean Huss and Lydie Err, who co-sponsored the Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Bill 2012, admitted they were disappointed in the law because they said it failed to include children and those with dementia.  When I asked why these groups were not included in their law, they said that they knew it was easier to pass the law initially for terminally ill people only and then, once passed, to increase the law’s application.


* In Oregon, where the law is the blueprint for the Assisted Dying Bill currently before you in the House of Lords, the 2013 statistics reveal that pain is infact not one of the main concerns of people requesting assisted suicide.  Instead, the three main reasons are loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable (88.7%) and loss of dignity (73.2%).  By comparison, inadequate pain control or concern about it was one of the least important concerns at 28.2%.


*  Since this documentary was produced, Washington State’s 2013 annual report has shown that 61% of all those who were supplied lethal drugs in order to commit suicide listed the feeling of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers as one of their main reasons for their request.


* In Switzerland, assisted suicide has been legal since the late 1800’s and one of its most stringent safeguards is that each case is investigated by the police


* The Netherlands are currently debating something called ‘Completed Life’ which would legalise assisted suicide for those 70+ who are tired of life


* In the first 10 years since the Belgium Euthanasia law was enacted, there has not been one case of abuse reported.  Is this because there have been no abuses (the BMJ reported in 2010 that only half of all euthanasia cases are properly reported) or because, as in most other countries, reporting and monitoring are self-regulatory?


Liz’s personal conclusion is that the risks to the safety and wellbeing of the majority should continue to outweigh the individual needs of those who want an assisted suicide.  She hopes you agree and will vote ‘no’ to the Assisted Dying Bill.

Jun 222015

(NB. Those supporting the Bill use terms such as assisted dying and death with dignity to make killing someone / assisting a suicide more palatable.  Those of us opposed to legalizing assisted suicide think it’s important to call it what it is and so we use the term assisted suicide.)

The Assisted Dying Bill is doing the rounds again.  This time Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South is bringing this private members bill to the Commons for a full debate on Friday September 11 2015.  This will be the first time in over 18 years that Commons rather than the Lords have had the chance to vote on this subject so it’s essential that we let our MPs know that we oppose legalising AS.

The best way to do this is to pay your MP a visit before they finish for the summer on the 21st July.  Use this opportunity tell your MP that you oppose this Bill, to find out how they’re going to vote and most importantly, to tell your MP to attend the debate on September 11th  –  and hopefully to vote against it.

An actual meeting with your MP will have the most impact. MPs will see you at a ‘surgery’ (meeting) in their constituency (the area that your MP represents).  Sometimes you have to make an appointment and some MPs will hold drop in sessions.  If there’s a few of you in the same constituency from NDYUK, you could always go together?   Your MP should also be able to make a house call if visiting them would be difficult.


If you need to find out who your MP is, just put your postcode into www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/  The parliament.uk website will also help you find your MP’s webpage detailing when they hold constituency surgeries and how to make an appointment to see them.

Remember, an MP has a duty to see their constituents and an MP is meant to represent a constituent’s interests even if they disagree.

NDYUK will have an information sheet available with key points for you to print out and leave with your MP.  Your personal reasons for opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide however, will have the most impact – after all, your local MP is more likely to be concerned about issues that directly affect their constituents.  If your MP is also opposed to the Bill then you could ask them to help with our campaign, to debate against it in the Commons and to publicly speak out against the Bill in the media.


Most importantly, whether or not your MP shares your view, ask them to attend the debate and vote on September 11th.


Please make an appointment to see your MP before July 21st and if you really cannot visit them, write a letter or at least email them before July 21st.


Let us know how it goes, how your MP intends to vote & if you need any more information.  Thanks and good luck!

Feb 282012

Serco Research is asking for Disabled Peoples Organisations’ (DPO’s) and disabled individual’s thoughts on PIP through an online questionnaire.

Questions include where the PIP examinations should take place, at what time and whether disabled individuals or DPO’s would be interested in feeding back on the process.

Have Serco got the contract? Are our views being taken into account? Who knows? But what we do need to know is that Dr Stephen Duckworth OBE, director of the Serco Institute for research, has other connections.  He is a disabled man using an electric wheelchair-so we’ll be OK yes? Well no….

Dr Stephen may be disabled, he also supports euthanasia and is  a member of the ‘assisted dying’ committee to get the law changed for euthanasia to become legal in the UK. He  has advised the government on the misery that is welfare reform, has been involved in insurance companies on disability ( no names mentioned but may begin with the letter ‘U’), has been involved in ‘the work program’ ( an euphemism for workfare’ and other programs) netting £3 bn for his company and has also been involved with a contract earning 100 million a year to help long term unemployed people return to work that was outsourced by the DWP, now didn’t Atos get 100 million a year from DWP contract to do just that? As ‘Fitness to work’ is described as one of his areas of ‘expertise’ it’s all possible. See: https://www.expertsearch.co.uk/cgi-bin/find_expert?5669

And just in case you think we would dare to make this stuff up see links below and scroll down for the original email on PIP

Committee on Assisted Dying


The link tells us:

Dr Duckworth OBE is the founder and Chief Executive of Disability Matters Limited. He is a board member on the Olympic Delivery Authority, Board Champion for Equality and Diversity and Chair of the Health, Safety and Environment Committee. He also sits on the board for the Employers Forum on Disability and the National Quality Board.

Dr Duckworth was an adviser to Ministers for Welfare Reform and for Disabled People on the provision of disability benefits. He has also been very involved in the work of a group of FSA regulated companies that provide ethical finance and insurance to disabled customers. He was also a member of the Council of the University of Southampton”.

In 2009 the Mail described the ‘assisted dying’ committee set up and bankrolled by Terry Pratchett as:

This private Commission was set up by Charlie Falconer, an outspoken supporter of euthanasia, after three failed attempts in Parliament to change the law on ‘assisted dying’”. Further…
The Commission has made considerable noise about the disabled person amongst their number. While all the major disability rights organisations in the UK (RADAR, UKDPC, NCIL, SCOPE, Not Dead Yet) oppose a change in the law, Stephen Duckworth, Chief Executive of ‘Disability Matters Limited’, actually backs a change to legalisation.

‘Disability Matters Limited’ sounds grandiose but it is in reality it was just a private business – which according to the Companies House website was dissolved in the summer of 2010. So who does Mr Duckworth represent?

Read more: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2082255/Lord-Falconer-sham-Commission-lead-13-000-deaths-year.html#ixzz1ni0G00C6

On Linkedin Dr Stephen describes past work as:

I previously worked as the Strategic Development Director working to secure contracts from the UK government under the £3Bn per annum Work Programme.

Previously I was leading a £100 million contract to help the long-term unemployed people return to work that has been outsourced by the DWP.

So before reading the email do bear these things in mind:

Classification: Serco Public

Please find below, an email from Dr Stephen Duckworth OBE, Director of the Serco Institute for Research.

Serco is very aware that many disabled people’s organisations have expressed concerns about the government’s intentions in relation to Welfare Reform. It appears the Coalition Government is intent on making these changes and as such, it seems inevitable that they will be letting new contracts to introduce reforms such as the Personal Independence Payment in the near future. More information can be found here: https://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/disability/personal-independence-payment/

To achieve their objectives, the government is establishing a Framework Agreement through the Department of Work and Pensions, inviting organisations to bid to deliver health and disability assessments that will enable individuals to access certain benefits and services.

At Serco, we believe passionately in effective public service delivery. It is important to us to put the citizen at the heart of our solution so that individuals and organisations who argue that “Nothing should be done about us without us” are provided with the opportunity to influence the design and shaping of future services that are affected by the benefit reform process.

As an electric wheelchair user myself and with a medical background, I’m very conscious that the views of those with long-term health conditions and disabled people need to be incorporated in the design and delivery of these assessments.

Would you as an individual or your organisation be interested in contributing to Serco’s ambition of involving as many disabled people as possible in developing the solution to all future assessments for disabled people?

If your answer is yes, then please click on the link below to express your interest by completing a short survey about health & disability assessments.


 We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Dr Stephen Duckworth OBE, Director Serco Institute