PRESS RELEASE – September 23, 2021
Alliance VITA’s Response to the 2021-2024 Palliative Care Plan
Alliance VITA commends the recently announced plan in France to develop more palliative care but also calls for the utmost vigilance regarding end-of-life issues.
Promised last April by the French Health Minister while the MPs were debating a bill to legalise euthanasia, this long-awaited plan intends to “guarantee” that palliative and end-of-life care will be made universally available throughout France.
For Alliance VITA, this goal is still a long shot away. Palliative care is still unavailable for 2/3rds of the patients who need it, due to lack of resources and 1/4th of French departments have no palliative care units at all.
The government has made a significant commitment by allocating €171 million to develop palliative care units throughout France by 2024. This includes increasing the number of hospital beds specialized in palliative care, and already in a priority move, 5 million € has been allocated to reinforce mobile teams this year. However, the shortage of caregivers puts at risk these targeted objectives. Creating a university course in palliative medicine is only worthwhile if palliative care jobs are created and filled.
The idea of better involving citizens, allowing them to exercise their rights and control their end of life is not to be opposed, unless there is an underlying, insidious push towards legalizing euthanasia.
As spokesperson for Alliance VITA, Tugdual Derville declares: “Our SOS End of Life listening service and the widely distributed Advance Directives Guidebooks show our commitment to promoting palliative care and fighting against unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy. As a member of the collective movement “Relieve Suffering Without Killing”, Alliance VITA keeps a watchful eye on the way every individual is treated until the end of his life, especially now, prior to the up-coming elections when there is intense political pressure to legalise euthanasia. The human tragedies which affected too many people during the pandemic highlighted the utmost importance for families to help their loved ones until the end of life. The Minister’s announcement to make Midazolam more widely available is also alarming since caregivers have warned of inadequate training for administering this potentially lethal sedative and the lack of genuine collegiality. Such conditions could easily veer towards euthanasia. To make end-of-life care more human, relatives and caregivers must join forces and work together to make every individual’s dignity inalienable until the very end of his life. »