Friday 21 February 2020

Specialist euthanasia clinic faces 22% increase in requests for help

Photo: DutchNews.nl

A specialist clinic set up to help people whose doctors do not support euthanasia, or who feel unable to help in their situation, received a record 3,122 requests last year, a rise of 22%.

Of them, 898 people, or 29% were helped to end their lives by the specialist teams, the same percentage as in 2018, the clinic said on Friday.

In particular, people with complex health issues such as dementia and psychiatric problems turn to the clinic, known as the Expertisecentrum Euthanasie, for help.

The rise in requests has led to a shortage of healthcare professionals across the board, particularly in The Hague and Rotterdam, the clinic said, and the waiting lists are growing.

Last September staff at the clinic said that requests for help had risen 15% in the first six months of the year. The increase, they said, may be partly due to the extra scrutiny doctors are facing from justice ministry officials.

One doctor was put on trial for murder for carrying out a euthanasia request, which, according to the public prosecution department, was not in line with the rules last year, but was eventually acquitted.

According to the Dutch law, which dates back to 2002, patients must be experiencing unbearable suffering without perspective of improvement in order to be eligible for euthanasia. Two doctors have to approve the request.

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