Thirty people living across England will soon meet to participate in the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ project to explore public views on assisted dying. Together, these people, who have been randomly selected using a democratic lottery and stratification process, provide a representative sample of the English population and will form a Citizens' Jury.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCOB) is working with Hopkins Van Mil (HVM), an award-winning social research agency in deliberative methods, to design and facilitate England’s first-ever Citizens’ Jury to address the following questions:

1. Should the law in England be changed to permit assisted dying?

i) What are the most important reasons in favour of permitting assisted dying?

ii) What are the most important reasons against permitting assisted dying?

2. If the law is changed to permit assisted dying in England, what should it include? What should it exclude?

3. If the law is not changed to permit assisted dying in England, are there any recommendations or changes to assisted dying policy that should be made?

Jury members will meet a total of six times between April and June, hearing from a broad range of speakers who will present information and evidence. They will also hear from those with lived experience of the topic. This will allow the Jury to consider and deliberate the ethical, legal, and medical issues associated with assisted dying.

Both practical and wellbeing support will be provided to the Jury members throughout the process. Suzanne Ost, Professor of Law at Lancaster University and Dr Alexandra Mullock, Senior Lecturer in Medical Law at the University of Manchester will be on hand to assist in any clarification or further examination of the information. A dedicated Counsellor, Sandeep Ganatra, will be supporting Jury members during and in between sessions.

Counsellor Sandeep Ganatra said:

Everyone experiences death and loss in their lifetime, it can remain a difficult thing to think and talk about. As such, Jury members will be given the emotional and practical support needed to navigate the deliberations sensitively with Jury members’ mental health and wellbeing at the front of our minds.

“I am pleased to work with the HVM facilitation team to provide Jury members with a safe space to absorb and explore a complex and potentially emotional topic.”

Members of the NCOB’s independent Advisory Board, which is Chaired by Professor Anne Kerr, will be attending the Jury sessions as official non-participating observers.

Professor Anne Kerr, Member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and Chair of the Assisted Dying Advisory Board said:

The Advisory Board and I are committed to overseeing the integrity, rigour, and balance of the processes that underpin this project. Members of the Advisory Board will be acting as official observers at each Jury session, they will not contribute to the deliberations but be watching and listening to see how the Jury functions and provide reassurances that the process was robust and balanced.

"I am grateful to all of our Jury members and look forward to their deliberation on this important and complex topic."

The Jury’s initial recommendations will be published within an interim report in July. A final report and independent evaluation will then be published at the end of the project.

If you would like to receive updates on the progress of the NCOB public engagement project on assisted dying, you can sign up for the mailing list here.