SEVERAL groups gathered in Clydebank Town Hall to attend the Future of Care in Scotland Conference.

The event was organised by the Campaign Against Assisted Dying (CAAD) and hosted by West Dunbartonshire Provost Douglas McAllister on Friday.

Martin Docherty Hughes MP, MSPs Jackie Baillie and Marie McNair as well as members of community groups and the public were all at the event.

CAAD organised the event amid concerns the group has over Liam McArthur MSP's proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults bill.

McArthur’s bill applies 'mental capacity' safeguards as patients must be both diagnosed as terminally ill and deemed mentally fit to understand both their condition and the consequences of their choices. Two doctors are legally required to agree before anyone can access the law.

Anyone applying for assisted dying would have to be a resident in Scotland for 12 months. This would prevent Scotland becoming a 'suicide destination' like Switzerland.

He is the third MSP in history to attempt to pass such legislation, which would see mentally competent adults with a terminal diagnosis given the ability to end their lives legally.

And the bill is expected to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament later this year.

CAAD have detailed what they call the "predictable concerns" of the proposed policy.

“Many in the population know about one of the issues affected by the proposals, the challenges of people facing a difficult death," Brian Cairns, a CAAD member said. 

"They know about this because of statements by famous people, and soap opera storylines, that have explored these concerns.

"From our work in the community, we know that most people are not aware of what has actually happened in countries which have legalised assisted dying.

"The experience of these countries show how care in Scotland could be changed by these proposals, especially for the most vulnerable.”

The conference was also addressed by Dr Gordon Macdonald, CEO of Care Not Killing, who explored the proposals to ensure that assisted dying would only be allowed for those in intolerable pain due to terminal illness.

Using evidence from other countries he argued how safeguards put in place were later removed.

"Initial safeguards come to be seen as barriers to access and are removed over time putting more vulnerable people at risk," he stated.

"No parliament can bind its successor, legal challenges are inevitable either with the aim of extending the law or owing to human rights concerns.

"People may ‘qualify’ for assisted dying, but their real reasons for seeking it (were shown to be) loneliness, social isolation, financial pressures, depression, lack of access to care etc. which should be addressed in other ways."

Provost Douglas McAllister said: "The conference on the Future of Care in Scotland organised by the Campaign Against Assisted Dying was a great success and it was my pleasure to chair it.

"I wish to express my thanks to the local campaign group for all their hard work to ensure the public conference was held in our Clydebank Town Hall. 

"It was great to see so many in attendance with delegates from health and social care, local third sector organisations and politicians from various political parties.  The conference organisers were very clear in their aims and objectives that it was an opportunity to provide information on the bill going through the Scottish Parliament at the moment and to allow delegates and members of the public to discuss the potential consequences should the bill be passed.

"The time is now to raise public awareness and campaign on what must be regarded as the most significant piece of legislation of our generation to pass through the Scottish Parliament, and it was great to hear from two very eminent guest speakers. 

"It was also an opportunity for delegates in attendance to express their views or concerns in this public forum."

Marie McNair MSP added: "It was good to join others at Friday’s conference about the Future of Care in Scotland.

“It was really helpful to hear from Gordon Macdonald from Care not Killing and Marianne Scobie from Glasgow Disability Alliance.

“The bill has not yet been formally introduced in Parliament, but I am hoping to see it put forward in the coming weeks.

"We will find out more details as the bill is introduced. I do have concerns about this type of legislation, but will ensure the bill gets the proper scrutiny it, and all other bills, rightly should get.”