Tuesday 16 August 2022

Specialist euthanasia clinic is unable to cope with demand

The number of requests for euthanasia made to a special clinic for people whose doctors won’t help is rising so quickly that the organisation is looking for some 50 new members of staff.

In 2016 the clinic received some 1,800 requests, of which around 500 led to euthanasia being carried out. This year, the clinic expects 2,500 requests, of which 750 will lead to euthanasia, the clinic’s director Steven Pleiter told the Volkskrant.

Pleiter said the 59 doctors now working for the foundation are unable to cope with the additional volume of requests and the clinic will need more than a hundred doctors next year.

The clinic also needs more psychiatrists because some 25% of requests are made by patients with psychological complaints.

The Dutch voluntary euthanasia society established the clinic in 2012. Pleiter said the rise in the number of requests for euthanasia is due to the fact that more people want to choose how they die,. ‘The taboo is disappearing. Many people feel the need to take to control themselves,’ he said.

VU university researcher Bregje Onwuteaka-Philipsen, who specialises in end-of-life care, told the Volkskrant requests for euthanasia have risen from around 13,000 in 2011 to 18,000 last year. One reason may be that the current generation approaching old age is less religious, she said.

Official cases

According to the Dutch law patients must be experiencing unbearable suffering without perspective of improvement in order to be eligible for euthanasia. The number of official cases rose 10% last year to 6091 and euthanasia now accounts for 4% of total deaths, according to government figures.

In 10 cases, the rules for euthanasia were not followed correctly, most of which involved a failure to properly consult a second doctor, the RTE annual report said.

Of the total, 87% of assisted deaths involved people with cancer, serious heart or lung problems or diseases of the nervous system such as ALS.

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