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When a ‘right to die’ becomes a ‘duty to die’

Picture a Strathclyde hospital lift, already crammed with people, when the doors part and a woman rather ambitiously attempts to squeeze in. As everyone shuffles awkwardly to accommodate their latest fellow occupant, a loud proclamation bellows out from somewhere at the back of the enclosed space: “This lady! She cared for my wife when she was dying!”

The startling announcement signalled that the woman was worthy of particular recognition. The lady, a retired matron and founder of the local hospice, later recounted to me how the experience was a touching reminder to her of the significant impact of attending to the bespoke needs of each person referred for palliative care at the end of their lives.

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