Coronavirus (COVID-19) - our advice for doctors

We recognise that this is a very difficult and worrying time for doctors. Our professional standards provide a framework for ethical decision making in a wide range of situations. They should be followed as far as practical in the circumstances. We're regularly updating our advice for doctors as the situation develops.

When a patient seeks advice or information about assistance to die

Assisting or encouraging suicide is a criminal offence in the UK. But this doesn’t mean you can’t say anything at all to a patient who approaches you for information.

This guidance will help you decide what information you can give to your patient while acting within the law. It’s important to note that the guidance doesn’t prevent doctors from prescribing medicines to alleviate pain or other distressing symptoms, or from promising to do so.

This guidance came into effect 31 January 2013. It was updated on 15 October 2014 &18 June 2015. 

You should also read the separate Guidance for the Investigation Committee and case examiner when considering allegations about a doctor’s involvement in encouraging or assisting suicideIt covers matters such as subject access requests under the data protection law, writing reports, and compassionate actions by doctors who are patients’ family members

Download the guidance

You can download the guidance in English or Welsh.