Your web browser is outdated and may be insecure

The RCN recommends using an updated browser such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

Resolution: Assisted dying

Submitted by the Greater Liverpool and Knowsley Branch

03 Jun 2024, 08:00 - 06 Jun, 17:00

  • ICC Wales, Coldra Woods, Newport, NP18 1HQ
That this meeting of RCN Congress supports the principles of assisted dying.

This resolution was passed by voting members at Congress 2024.

Assisted dying is a highly emotive subject and there is a range of views within the membership based on factors that include professional and personal experiences, religious and cultural beliefs, and other ethical reasons. Given the multiple different and nuanced opinions, the RCN currently has a neutral position.

This resolution seeks to explore the general debate and what the principles of assisted dying should look like in anticipation they become embedded in UK legislation. If legislation is going to be made it is essential the College is involved and able to influence any proposed principles.

Dying is a fundamental part of life, and an area where nursing care can make a significant difference to the person who is dying, as well as to their family, friends, and carers. It is an area intrinsically associated with nursing care. Any proposed legislation for assisted dying may have implications for our members. 

Proposed changes to legislation on assisted dying is being discussed and is at different stages of development in various parts of the UK:

  • Jersey’s States Assembly is preparing to debate their policy proposals for assisted dying in May 2024.
  • In Scotland, a member’s Bill on assisted dying has been introduced and the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee is expected to be collecting evidence over the summer.
  • In the Isle of Man, the assisted dying Bill passed its second reading in the House of Keys in October 2023.

In February 2024, the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee published a report following an inquiry that looked at the written and verbal evidence gathered from over 68000 people on the issue of palliative care, suggested improvements to the service and assisted dying. While the survey was aimed specifically at people in England and Wales the report draws on data from across the UK. The focus from the report was the human element; a desire to achieve good palliative and end of life care and support people to have a ‘good death’.

The current developments with the assisted dying legislation being progressed in the Republic of Ireland, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Scotland, indicate that the RCN needs to consider how the voice of nursing can influence and ensure the principles around assisted dying are considered and support nurses.

If the UK Government is going to be considering assisted dying legislation, then the RCN should have a voice in influencing the Bill and any principles set out within it to ensure the protection of both the patient and the healthcare staff supporting them.

The reading list for this debate is available here.

Allinson A (2023) Assisted dying – report on the public consultation on a Private Members Bill. Available at: 
House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee (2024) What are the key considerations in the debate around assisted dying/assisted suicide? A summary of our inquiry. Available at: 
House of Oireachtas (2024) Joint Committee on Assisted Dying: Final report of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying. Available at: 
McArthur L (2022) Proposed assisted dying for terminally ill adults (Scotland) Bill: Summary of consultation responses. Available at: 
States of Jersey (2024) Assisted dying in Jersey. Available at:

ICC Wales
Coldra Woods
NP18 1HQ

Page last updated - 05/06/2024