Cancer-stricken Public Health England official slams ban on assisted dying

Cancer-stricken Public Health England official with two years to live slams ban on assisted dying as 'inhumane' and reveals he would like the option of an 'extra vial of morphine' in his final days Professor Paul Cosford is the emeritus medical director of Public Health England The 57-year-old, who was incurable lung cancer, has only up to two years to live  His biggest fear around dying is the 'lack of control' he will have in his final days

By Eleanor Hayward Health Correspondent For The Daily Mail

Published: 00:01 BST, 1 October 2020 | Updated: 00:18 BST, 1 October 2020

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Professor Paul Cosford is the emeritus medical director of Public Health England

Professor Paul Cosford is the emeritus medical director of Public Health England

One of Britain's top health officials has revealed he now supports assisted dying after developing incurable lung cancer.

Professor Paul Cosford, the emeritus medical director of Public Health England, said he would like the option of an 'extra vial of morphine' in his final days.

The 57-year-old has only another one or two years to live and described the current ban on assisted dying in the UK as 'inhumane'.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Professor Cosford said his biggest fear around dying is the 'lack of control' he will have in his final days.

He wrote: 'The option of a prescription to allow me, in my last days, to bring forward the end of my life is simply not there.'

He added that he sometimes hoped he died from Covid-19 instead, as it would be a 'quicker and kinder option'.

Professor Cosford said: 'My biggest fear around dying is the lack of control. The lack of ability, if all becomes too much, to advance the end a little, to take some control in my final days.

'I might have a diamorphine pump at that time, and the idea of having an extra vial in the fridge for me to use if I need it is appealing.

'But I know it cannot be prescribed legally for this purpose so is not really an option. Despite helpful conversations with excellent palliative care specialists, this final element of choice and self-determination seems to evade me.'

Professor Cosford said his experience of lung cancer had caused him to change his views on euthanasia.

He had previously believed the law was 'too blunt an instrument to deal with the complexities' of death, but was now convinced it must be reviewed.

All forms of assisted dying are illegal in the UK, and can result in up to 14 years in prison.

But assisted dying has been legalised in several countries including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada.

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