From Dr Michael Jarmulowicz Sir, Your Home News article (July 9) on the BMA guidelines on withdrawal of food and fluids contains a crucial inaccuracy which must be corrected.
The Guild of Catholic Doctors believes that withdrawal of treatment is appropriate when it is giving no benefit to the patient. It recognises that often dying patients will refuse food and fluids, and in such circumstances there is no need to force fluids. The fundamental problem with the BMA guidance is that it is advocating the withdrawal of "artificial" nutrition and hydration (i.e. tube feeding) from patients who are not terminally ill.
So that there can be no dispute that the BMA is advocating the withdrawal of food and fluids from patients who are not terminally ill, two brief quotations from the document are given. In section 2: "The main focus of this guidance is decisions to withdraw or withhold life-prolonging treatment from patients who are likely to live for weeks, months or possibly years ..." and in section 22.1: "Mechanisms should be in place to identify all cases in which artificial nutrition and hydration was withheld or withdrawn from patients who were not imminently dying and where the patient's wishes were not known." Under such circumstances the withdrawal of food and fluids will be done in order to bring abut the death of the patient and so is unequivocally euthanasia and therefore morally completely unacceptable.
Yours faithfully, MICHAEL JARMULOWICZ, Willesden Green, London.