Doctor refuses to grant Topsham man clinic consent

A terminally-ill man from Topsham has been refused consent from his doctor to visit a Swiss-based assisted suicide clinic

A TERMINALLY-ill man says he is re-evaluating ways to end his life after a doctor refused to sign a form allowing him to die at an assisted suicide clinic.

Self-confessed alcoholic, Andrew Barnes, of Altamira, Topsham, has a failing liver, enlarged heart, problems with his lungs and kidneys, as well as suffering from poor blood circulation.

He was told by a physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital last May that he had just months to live.

The news prompted him to send for a form from Dignitas, an assisted suicide clinic, based in Geneva, which helps people with terminal, severe or mental illnesses, to die.

But Mr Barnes said the application form required consent from the applicant’s doctor and his GP has refused to give his authorisation.

The former pilot, who hasn’t dismissed the idea of using Dignitas, admitted he was also considering a trip to Africa, where he has friends, so he could buy a revolver and kill himself.

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He said: “Because my GP hasn’t given me his clearance, it means I haven’t submitted a formal application to the clinic as yet.

“Doctors are in a job where they endeavour to keep you alive, not kill you. They are also mindful of their legal position.”

After seeing his father die of cancer in a hospice a number of years ago, the 54-year-old said he did not want his life to end in a similar place or in a hospital.

“It’s not a matter of whether I can go on with life or not, it’s whether I can (because of my health),” he said.

Mr Barnes says he wants to ‘remain in front’ of his own circumstances.

He believes using the clinic or shooting himself was a way out, where he would be in control, enabling him to die with dignity.

“I’m contemplating ending my life because I do not want to just go on being sick.”

Under Swiss law, helping another person to die is not a crime unless they act from ‘selfish motives’.

In England, assisted suicide is a controversial, ongoing issue which has been discussed by MPs for a number of years and remains a topic of discussion.

Mr Barnes said: “When I was in my 20s I could drink a bottle of gin every day. Later on, I became satisfied with just cider. It was back then that I think I did the damage to myself.”