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Doctors 'do not bring death forward'

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Yesterday the Today programme spoke to broadcaster Ray Gosling about the revelations that he smothered his ailing lover who was suffering from Aids.

Mr Gosling told Today presenter Sarah Montague that, "doctors are doing this every day... It's an invitation. Why do doctors leave extra morphine for people in extreme pain. Just in case you need it."

Other listeners emailed describing how doctors subtly prompted them to give fatal doses of morphine to unwell relatives.

Dr Victoria Wheatley, consultant of palliative care at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil, rejected the claims, "doctors do not bring somebody's death forward."

"There is no evidence that responsible use of the sort of medicines that we use to control symptoms at the end of life, shortens life. In fact there is a suggestion that actually if people are not suffering and are able to relax that they may actually live a little bit longer."

She explained that Mr Gosling's interview highlighted myths about doctors' involvement in assisted dying that were "not true."

People think "that death is a horrendous process and by its nature is painful. That is not the case. I see a lot of patients die and the vast majority die a peaceful death."

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