Mobile units in Holland will practice euthanasia
The world's first mobile team to administer euthanasia in patients homes will be launched next month.
Units will be dispatched when family doctors refuse to administer lethal drugs on ‘ethical' grounds.
They are expected to send the number of euthanasia cases in Holland soaring, with pro-campaigners claiming they will end the lives of an additional 1,000 patients a year.
No way back: The units will euthanize patients by administering a strong sedative to put them in a coma, followed by a drug to stop them breathing
Officially, 2,700 Dutch people a year choose assisted suicide, but critics say the real figure is far higher.
The launch of the first unit, which will consist of at least a doctor and a nurse, was confirmed on Radio Netherlands by the country's Right to Die Association.
The group confirmed the unit in The Hague will be the first of six that will target borderline cases in which family GPs are reluctant to administer euthanasia.
It is likely to be used with mentally ill patients or those with early dementia, involving the patient's GP only 'if possible', the association has said.
The units, which are backed by the Dutch government, must conform to the
2002 law that made Holland the first country in the world to allow euthanasia.
Value of life: Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said this week that it would be a 'disaster' if assisted suicide was legalized in Britain
This law stipulates that a person can only quality for euthanasia if their suffering is lasting and unbearable.
The units were first revealed by Health Minister Edith Schippers in the Dutch parliament late last year.
She said that units 'for patients who meet the criteria for euthanasia but whose doctors are unwilling to carry it out' was worthy of consideration.
In Holland, euthanasia is carried out by administering a strong sedative to put the patient in a coma, followed by a drug to stop breathing and cause death.
The Dutch government insists 'the greatest care' is taken to offer euthanasia only to patients 'who are suffering unbearably with no prospect of improvement'.