Disparity in UK residents having an assisted death in Switzerland

New research by the Assisted Dying Coalition has revealed the true inadequacy and disparity of the broken UK assisted dying laws. The new research shows where UK residents have come from before having an assisted death at Dignitas, the assisted dying centre in Switzerland.

Read the report here.

The research outlines the continuous flow of UK and crown-dependency residents using assisted dying services abroad — an increase which will only continue in the absence of a compassionate assisted dying law.

For the first time, this report publishes the breakdown of where UK and Crown Dependency residents come from who have an assisted death at Dignitas:

CountyAssisted Deaths
Greater London108
East Sussex18
Greater Manchester16
North Yorkshire12
West Midlands12

More affluent local authorities see higher rates of individuals going abroad. Counties that are also further from an airport, meaning travel is significantly more difficult and expensive, often see fewer assisted deaths. 

The report highlights data on the types of cases that go abroad showing that many suffer from neuro-degenerative conditions. Some of them would not yet be classed as terminally ill or have less than six months left to live, showing that any assisted dying law must ensure that eligibility criteria are based on suffering, not months left to live.

The Assisted Dying Coalition is the UK and Crown Dependencies coalition of organisations working in favour of legal recognition of the right to die, for individuals who have a clear and settled wish to end their life and who are terminally ill or facing incurable suffering.

Nathan Stilwell, Secretariat for the Assisted Dying Coalition, said: 

‘This report clearly shows that the UK’s assisted dying law is broken, brutal and barbaric. We must stop exporting compassion to Switzerland and give choice, freedom and dignity to the people in this country who are suffering. 

Having a postcode lottery to end suffering, and an unequal system, where only the rich and physically able can take advantage, is absolutely wrong. 31 jurisdictions around the world, accessible to nearly 400 million people, prove that compassionate options are available. 

Adults of sound mind, who are intolerably suffering from a physical, incurable condition deserve the freedom and right to have a dignified end-of-life choice on their own terms.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Nathan Stilwell at nathan@humanists.uk or phone 07456 200033.