A poll of 224 anaesthetists and other doctors at the Association of Anaesthetists annual conference in Edinburgh has found overwhelming support for the assisted dying legislation currently making its way through Holyrood. 

Some 79% of medics at the summit in the capital said the Bill being taken through Parliament by Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur was consistent with the same principles of compassion as palliative sedation.

Fourteen per cent of respondents disagreed, while 7% said they were unsure.

The survey also found just 6% believe existing end-of-life alternatives are sufficient for all patients, compared to 85% who said they are insufficient and 9% who are unsure.

Mr McArthur said: “For many years, the Scottish public have been overwhelmingly supportive of a change in the law, and this survey is yet more evidence that medical experts are increasingly moving towards the same view.

“The current ban on assisted dying leaves too many Scots facing a bad death. A majority of anaesthetists support a move to a more compassionate regime that can provide adults with a terminal illness with more choice while also putting in place appropriate safeguards.

“That is what I hope to achieve with my assisted dying Bill, and I look forward to working with those in the medical profession and others to help deliver that.”

Emma Cooper, convener of Fate, said: “Many Scots will know from personal experience – as I do – that despite the very best palliative care, people are suffering unnecessarily at the end of their lives.

“This recognition from anaesthetists that a change in the law is needed is very welcome and reflects public opinion.

“The proposed Scottish Bill will give adults with a terminal illness peace of mind that, should they wish to, they can take control of their death and avoid suffering.”

The legislation has been backed by 36 MSPs from the SNP, Labour, Greens, Tories and LibDems, and supporters are confident they have the number to get it onto the statute books when it comes to a vote.

However, the opposition is growing. Last week saw both First Minister Humza Yousaf and Health Secretary Michael Matheson come out against any change to the law.

There has been some criticism of the proposed change in law from disability groups and faith organisations. 

Earlier this week, we told how the Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) said the proposals would make disabled Scots feel as if they are a "burden", particularly given financial pressures.

Tressa Burke, the CEO of the group The Herald that disabled people in Scotland were already dying in higher numbers across Scotland “because of poverty, cuts to social care services and failing mental health services. And of course due to Covid.”

She said the consequences of the legislation would be "that disabled people hear a message that we are a burden and feel a pressure to make the ‘choice’ to die."