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Doctor ‘asked family to hold down struggling euthanasia victim’

An intensive care unit in Belgium. Labour MP Robert Flello said: 'I think we face a real humanitarian crisis in those countries which have euthanasia or assisted suicide' (Photo: AP)

Dutch prosecutors are being asked to examine the case of an elderly woman who was reportedly drugged and then pinned down while a doctor pumped lethal drugs into her body.

A female doctor has been formally reprimanded for performing the act of euthanasia because the patient was suffering from dementia and could not properly consent.

When the woman was first diagnosed with dementia four years ago she had indicated that she was willing to end her life by euthanasia “but not now”.

Her nursing home decided the moment had arrived when her condition deteriorated and she began to wander the wards at night and behave aggressively.

The doctor reportedly drugged the woman’s coffee to calm her down, an act the regional euthanasia assessment committee decided was wrong.

The doctor also allegedly asked the woman’s family to hold her down when she “reacted negatively” to the procedure, and ripped out the drip carrying the euthanasia drugs.

The assessment committee said the doctor had “crossed a line” and has passed the case to prosecutors who will decide if a crime has been committed.

The forcible euthanasia represents the first case involving a doctor to be referred to the Dutch prosecution service.

Dutch law, which dates from 2002, permits euthanasia only in cases of unbearable and untreatable suffering but it is increasingly used on people with dementia and mental health problems.

The latest euthanasia figures from Holland show that the number of mental health patients killed by euthanasia has quadrupled in just four years.

Last year it emerged that an alcoholic and a victim of child sex abuse were killed by euthanasia.

The latest figures also show that the 2015 total of euthanasia deaths – some 5,306 cases – represents a leap of 50 per cent in the last five years.

The case has emerged as a new study has predicted that Canada’s new euthanasia laws, which closely resemble those in the Netherlands, could cut as much as £84 million from its annual health budget.

Researchers from the University of Calgary identified the “substantial savings” that could be made from reducing end-of-life care.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said that health care at the end of life was intensive and could go on for months.

Euthanasia, however, would cost the state just £15 per patient.

Robert Flello, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South and a Catholic, said the implications of the study were “absolutely horrific”.

“It reinforces anecdotal evidence coming out of Holland that doctors are rationing health care by using euthanasia,” said Mr Flello, a co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group.

“Quite frankly, it terrifies me,” he said. “We have issues with bed-blocking and if we ever had euthanasia or even so-called assisted dying in this country then we would have a real issue with cuts to our NHS being softened by actually just killing people off.

“I find the prospect simply terrifying.”

Mr Flello also severely criticised the forcible euthanasia of the elderly dementia sufferer in Holland, adding: “I think we face a real humanitarian crisis in those countries which have euthanasia or assisted suicide and quite frankly I don’t want that appalling situation here.”