#TOTW from 15-03-16 “We’re culturally squeamish about death”

Hey Folks!

That time of the week again…and a happy anniversary to me, or so WordPress just tells me! I’ve been doing this whole blog thing for 2 years now apparently!

So this week I decided to choose a topic that I have tweeted about many times since I started on Twitter, but not so much of late, and so my #TOTW is:

“We’re culturally squeamish about death”

“The term “a good death” is a highly optimistic one, and hard to achieve at the best of times; but being shunted into a hospital to die alone instead of in the place you have come to call home seems like the opposite.”

In this piece, Archie Bland writes about our feelings and outlook on death following a recent BMA report on end-of-life care, in which it found that although the UK is seen as having a high standard of end-of-life care, there is still plenty more that doctors could do to make it even better. Death isn’t something most of us feel comfortable talking about, but the more we can have such awkward conversations about what we want to happen to us when the time comes, the better.




Assisted Dying – who decides?

Evening all!

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for months now, and here I find myself on a Friday night, at home, on-call from work, sat blogging about assisted dying. I almost don’t know where to start, and I think that is what has put me off writing about this before. I’ve tweeted about it a number of times over the last year or so, but never really put down my thoughts on the matter. The 2 key events that have taken place concerning assisted dying have been the rejection of proposed legislation in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments.

Patrick Harvie, leader of the Green Party in Scotland, took up the challenge of championing the legislation on behalf of the late Margo MacDonald in the Scottish Parliament. He pretty much summed-up how I feel, when he said:

Whatever view members take of the detailed operation of this legislation were we to pass it, I hope that all members who understand the basic principle, who accept the idea that human beings have the right to make a decision in circumstances such as a terminal or life-shortening illness, I hope that members will give this bill the opportunity to come forward to the next stage, and then we can begin to debate the amendments that come forward.”

What is the point of Parliament, if not to debate such fundamental matters of importance as those of life and death – literally, in this instance. What frustrates me the most is the fact that both in Scotland and in the rest of the United Kingdom, legislation has been brought forward and then not given the support or time necessary to have proper discussion and to further the debate. If this happens each time such legislation is proposed, then what is the point? I sincerely hope that with the re-introduction of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill in the current session of the Westminster Parliament, that it progresses further than it managed to last time. For those who oppose it, what have you to fear by letting it progress through the committee stages of the House of Lords and into the House of Commons? This will give everybody the chance to analyse the proposed legislation in more detail and to suggest amendments, which can then in turn be debated. It would appear that the British public is moving towards an acceptance of the principle of assisted dying. If this is the case, then the Parliaments that represent them have a duty to debate, discuss, inform and educate on the matter.

Happily Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill has been re-introduced into the UK Parliament and had its first reading in the House of Lords on June 4th 2015:


There is so much information online and in print about assisted dying. For those of you already interested in the topic then i’m sure you know where to look. However, for those of you that may be new to the debate then the link above is a good place to start. It contains a copy of the proposed legislation, and will take you through its progress.

If you hadn’t already figured it out, then I shall now nail my colours to the mast. I support the basic principle of assisted dying and a persons’ right to choose when they no longer wish to live, even if this involves the assistance of another party. This Bill should be allowed to progress through Parliament and receive the proper scrutiny it requires and deserves – on a matter of such importance.

I will come back to this topic in the future, but I just wanted to put it out there and declare my interest. Please feel free to get in touch, share your views and add to the debate.


#TOTW (from 26-11-14) ‘Healthcare professionals must listen to patients’ dying wishes’

Short n’ sweet again this week as I’ve just finished nights and am back in work tomorrow!

I’ve chosen a very interesting topic for this week’s #TOTW, namely that of how and where we choose to die! It’s a really good piece written by Dr Lucy Ison who is a senior house officer at North Middlesex hospital:

Healthcare professionals must listen to patients’ dying wishes

It will only take 5 minutes to read, and hopefully it will lead you to have, what is naturally a difficult conversation with those you love, as to how and where you’d like to shuffle off this mortal coil!

Read it and comment!

#TOTW (from 15-10-14): Dying at home patients ‘lack 24-hour expert support’

This week’s #TOTW was either going to be about assisted dying (a topic I have visited many times in the past) or the lack of care provided for those who choose to die at home – I went for the latter, so I chose:

Dying at home patients ‘lack 24-hour expert support’

Bee Wee, NHS England’s national clinical director for end of life care, said: “Over the past year we have been working hard to make changes and move towards a palliative care service that gives everyone a choice about how and where they spend their final days. “It is really important that dying people, and those close to them, have access to care, support and advice whenever they need it, so we support this as an important issue to address.”

This is the very least we should do to support those that have the opportunity to, and so choose to die at home. It’s a very sad state of affairs that those who wish to choose the timing of their death are either driven to suicide or if they have the capability to travel to Switzerland to end their lives in a manner of their own choosing, and those who wish to die in the “comfort” of their own homes surrounded by loved ones don’t appear to be getting the total support they need and deserve from the NHS.

Having said this, however, according to the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance the UK has some of the best end-of-life care in the world.

There is always room for improvement. and particularly in such an important area as end-of-life care.

#TOTW (from 18-07-14): ‘Assisted dying law would lessen suffering says Falconer’

I make no apologies for returning yet again to the subject of assisted dying for my weekly blog update. It couldn’t really have been on anything else, given the events that have taken place. So my #TOTW was actually one of my own, following the passing of the second reading of Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill in the Lords:

What great news! Common sense has prevailed and now more detailed scrutiny of the bill can take place

It was indeed great news that the Lords had a full day of meaningful debate on what has to be one of the most important ethical matters of our time – the whole issue of how we should have the choice to decide when we’ve had enough and want to call time on our own life. That’s the whole point of this debate. Fundamentally it comes down to an individual’s own choice to decide when they want to die, and not to go on suffering needlessly for months on end, until finally the body gives in and succumbs to the inevitable. The bill – which I have read (link below) – is about providing the individual with the choice to call time on their own life. This, I believe will not be the “slippery slope” that some opponents have suggested it might be. It does not mean that all of a sudden many people are going to want to go ahead with it. What it would do though is give people, that are of sound mind, the right and choice to end their suffering. There is so much that could be said about what has happened, but I like to keep these blogs relatively short, in the hope that people will read all of them and come back for more!

Suffice as to say, even though there is very little likelihood of this particular bill becoming law in this parliament, at least it has now passed to the committee stage in the Lords, where it will be scrutinised in much more detail. This can only be a good thing, and will give those both for and against such a law, the chance to really take a closer look at exactly what it is Lord Falconer is proposing. I will be following this discussion with keen interest, and will no doubt return to the subject for future blogs.

If you haven’t already, then I would ask that those of you who are interested, take the time to read the bill itself:


It’s a very emotive topic, with understandable arguments on both sides. However, it all boils down to personal choice. The right of someone that is of sound mind to choose the time of their own passing.

#TOTW (from 04/07/14): ‘One Chance to Get it Right’

This week seems to have been one where quite a bit about end-of-life care and assisted dying has been in the media, so my choice for #TOTW is:

‘One Chance to Get it Right’ for the care of people who are dying

This is such a massive and emotive topic that I can’t cover all the pros and cons in a little blog update like this. However, I just wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the topic once again and give the chance for people to maybe take a quick look at the link and to consider some of the information – what it means to them personally and to those around them – friends and family for example. I’d love for it to spark some thought about the topic and maybe even discussion amongst you and your friends and family.

The Department of Health has launched a report (quick summary of the main points below) into the needs of people who are dying, their needs and those around them, and they are to be known as #Priorities for Care:

The new Priorities for Care mean that:

  • The possibility that a person may die within the coming days and hours is recognised and communicated clearly, decisions about care are made in accordance with the person’s needs and wishes, and these are reviewed and revised regularly by doctors and nurses.
  • Sensitive communication takes place between staff and the person who is dying and those important to them.
  • The dying person, and those identified as important to them, are involved in decisions about treatment and care.
  • The people important to the dying person are listened to and their needs are respected.
  • Care is tailored to the individual and delivered with compassion – with an individual care plan in place.

The aim is to promote a stronger culture of compassion in the NHS and social care – one that puts people and their families at the centre of decisions about their treatment and care.

As ever, i’d love for you to take a look at the link and give the matter some thought. Feedback and discussion are always welcome!

Take care…


Watch this space…

Welcome to my new website 😀

Over the coming days, weeks and months, I intend to start sharing my thoughts and opinions a bit more on the matters I have been tweeting/retweeting and posting on up until now. For those of you that are kindly already following me on Twitter (@radiographerben) or have liked my FaceBook Community page of the same name, then thank you! Please share my Twitter/FaceBook/Website details with your friends and colleagues and anyone else that you think might be interested in the kind of topics I have been covering up to now.

My main interests cover areas such as patient-care, communication, dementia, care of the elderly, all things A&E (including access to services and the trauma radiography itself), end-of- life care, mental health, education and learning. This is by no means an exhaustive list!

I would welcome feedback on the content of my website as it develops over the coming months, and am open to suggestions about further topics to cover and comment on. Please feel free to get involved and get in touch!

And remember…

“It’s not just about bones!”