Disabled activists have welcomed the decision of doctors to vote strongly against relaxing their union’s position on physician-assisted suicide.The British Medical Association (BMA) voted by 63 per cent to 37 per cent this week at its annual representative meeting (ARM) in Belfast to maintain its current position of being opposed to physician-assisted suicide.Some doctors had wanted the BMA to move to a neutral stance on the issue.Last September, the latest parliamentary attempt to weaken the law, through a private members’ bill put forward by Labour MP Rob Marris, was defeated by 330 votes to 118.But there were concerns after his bill was thrown out that pro-assisted suicide campaigners were already plotting their next move to try to force through legalisation, either through the courts or parliament.A move to a neutral position by the BMA would have given euthanasia supporters a significant boost in their continuing quest to change the law.Minutes before the debate, delegates had decided by a margin of only three votes to allow the meeting to debate the issue of whether the BMA “should adopt a neutral stance on assisted dying”. Dr Andrew Mowat told delegates that BMA had debated the issue in seven of the last 10 ARMs.He pointed out that MPs voted by nearly three to one against changing the law to legalise assisted suicide last year, while the Scottish parliament had thrown out a similar bill months earlier.He said: “The public expect their doctors to lead on ethical issues. The thought of doctors killing patients creates public mistrust of us.”He said that evidence from other countries showed that when doctors’ organisations moved to a position of neutrality it was soon followed by legalisation of assisted suicide.Baroness Finlay, a crossbench peer and consultant in palliative medicine, and a leading opponent of legalisation, said: “With our hard-pressed healthcare system, doctors have enough to juggle without being saddled with assessing whose life is worth working hard to improve, and who should be given lethal drugs.”But Professor Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a leading supporter of legalisation, said it was the BMA’s responsibility to debate the issue “year in, year out”.The disabled people’s campaign network Not Dead Yet UK (NDY UK), which opposes assisted suicide, welcomed the BMA vote, tweeting: “Thankyou to @BMA for continuing to oppose #assistedsuicide & listening to disabled people. Our lives are worth living,” and, “Disabled people will sleep safer tonight knowing @BMA doctors support us.”Baroness [Jane] Campbell, NDY UK’s founder, added on Twitter: “Great news! Not Dead UK thanks you from the bottom of our heart.”Dr Ian Wilson, chair of the BMA’s representative body, said: “Doctors appreciate the strongly-held views both across society and their profession on both sides of this complex and sensitive issue.“The issue of assisted dying has been regularly debated by the BMA at its annual policy-forming conference, with delegates voting this year to remain opposed to assisted dying.“By engaging with doctors and members of the public in an 18-month long project, we have compiled a comprehensive body of qualitative research to look at the wider context of the issue and enable members to have informed discussions at this year’s conference.“This work will still continue and we will also be holding a special open discussion this week during which doctors will be able to share their views on some of the more complex and practical issues doctors would face if assisted dying were permitted in the UK.”Picture: Not Dead Yet UK supporters protesting about the Marris bill outside parliament
NATHAN Brown expects to have Anthony Laffranchi and Jonny Lomax available for this Friday’s derby.Saints travel to Wigan on Good Friday (March 29, 12.15pm) to take on their closest rivals for the first time this season.“Jonny Lomax should be right to play, but if he isn’t 100 per cent right we won’t risk it,” Brown said. “He is a good player so to have him back will be a real bonus for us. Anthony Laffranchi should be back too but Lance Hohaia has a groin problem and won’t be fit for a couple of weeks.“We’re waiting for a scan on Tony Puletua’s knee but we’re confident it is a short term thing.”Saints have used 28 players so far this season and that has seen five youngsters make their debuts.Lewis Charnock, Dom Speakman, Anthony Walker, Mark Percival and Jordan Hand have all worn the red vee for the first time in 2013.“It’s been good that we have been able to give young kids the chance,” Brown added. “We’re in a good position that we can bring those kids in; we wouldn’t be where we are if we had to rely on the squad of senior players.“Some of those kids can’t play all the time though. Ant Walker played three weeks on a row because he was physically and mentally ready. Some aren’t physically ready to play every week and some have only been required to play for a week or so too. It’s a case of trying to find a balance.”Tickets are available for the match – and you can find details here.
THE Saints Way Bridge, linking the town centre to Langtree Park, home of the Saints, is to be named the Steve Prescott Bridge in honour of one of the Club’s greatest players.Making the announcement, Council Leader Barrie Grunewald said: “Steve was a first class ambassador not only for rugby but for the town. As well as being a legend of the game he is also honoured for his tireless fundraising for his Steve Prescott Foundation.“By naming the bridge after him is our tribute to one of the greats of St.Helens and a most well deserved honour, all the more so that the bridge links the town Steve loved so much to his beloved club.”Former Super League international Steve Prescott, who battled a rare form of stomach cancer, recently died aged 39.Steve, who played for St Helens, Hull and Wakefield and for England and Ireland, was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei in 2006.The full-back was given only months to live but battled the disease and in 2009 was awarded an MBE.He also raised thousands of pounds for charity through the Steve Prescott Foundation.He retired through injury in 2004, after spending a year out of the game with a broken kneecap, and following his diagnosis set up the foundation in 2007, which has to date raised more than half a million pounds.Saints Chief Executive Mike Rush said: “It is only fitting that one of St Helens’ greatest sons has such an honour bestowed on him and we are delighted that St Helens Council has taken this decision.“Steve will be missed by us all and the Club will also make sure he has a fitting legacy at Langtree Park. We will start that process when Saints take on Hull FC on February 21.”Mike Denning Chairman of the Steve Prescott Foundation added: “This is very fitting for a real life Hero and Sporting icon born here in our town.“Steve has inspired so many and has raised awareness of not only the very rare form of cancer which he battled but also the plight of those injured or fallen on hard times in the great game of Rugby League. “An official opening of the newly named bridge will take place on February 21 along with other events that will show how much Steve meant to the St Helens RFC and Hull FC Rugby League communities.
SAINTS were honoured to receive the special ‘Team Of The Year’ Award and the annual Pride Of St.Helens Award Dinner last Friday evening.Following the Club’s League Leaders’ Shield and Super League Trophy Success they were recognised with a special award and glass trophy that borught a loud cheer to the packed Hatton’s Travel Sponsors Lounge, which again played host to the magnificent evening of recognition for local heroes.CEO Mike Rush, James Roby and Paul Wellens’ son Harry collected the award from Linzi Prescott.
ATELEA Vea was pleased with how Saints bounced back in their performance against Castleford.A 21-14 win kept them top of the table following an emotional week.Now the focus is on Friday’s trip to Wakefield.“We bounced back after the Souths game and put in a performance against Castleford,” he said. “That was important for us. Wakefield will be dangerous as they will come out firing after last week’s loss at Widnes.“Tim Smith is dangerous and they have strike across the park.“But like last week, the focus internally has been on us. We have been looking to improve on what we are doing well and fixing up what we are struggling with.”Til is enjoying his time at Saints and has been an ever present in the club’s positive start to season.“The fans have been great; when we came out against Catalans you could feel the support,” he added. “Then when we had a rough patch they lifted us.“It’s been great. The standard at Saints is a step up and I have bought into it. The staff and squad are healthy and it’s a good place to be.“I appreciate being here and I want this spot really bad. Staff and squad healthy. I know I have come in for Sia Soliola but I want to make it my own and do well.”
Please note that some of the YouTube links below may contain advertising that is no longer relevant. AprilSaints began the month hoping to get back on track but gave up a 14 point lead at home to Huddersfield. Both teams eventually sharing a point.The game was the last for club legend Keiron Cunningham who ended his 24 year association with the Saints.As a result, assistant coaches Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi were joined by Academy coach Derek Traynor to form an interim coaching team whilst the club looked for a new appointment.Mark Percival signed an extension through until 2021.The coaching trio’s first game was away at Wigan and, sadly, a superb performance wasn’t rewarded with points.Saints lost 29-18, but the game will be remembered for two things – the debut of Regan Grace and the incorrect decision to send Kyle Amor off after just 15 minutes.A red hot Castleford came to the Totally Wicked Stadium on Easter Monday but Saints ripped up the formbook to win 26-22.But the inconsistency that had dogged Saints’ play throughout the early part of the season continued four days later as Widnes snatched a late one 16-14.Yet, Saints did end the month on a high with a vital 28-6 win over Leigh.MaySaints entered a pivotal period of fixtures that would see them face Castleford in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and Hull at the Magic Weekend alongside their other Super League fixtures.And a packed fixture programme coincided with a new gaffer too as Justin Holbrook was appointed into the role.He didn’t arrive in the country until later in the month and perhaps that disjointedness and uncertainty showed as Saints were downed 40-18 at Warrington in their first fixture of the month.Castleford were too good for Saints in the Cup too, winning 53-10, before Holbrook arrived to guide Saints into the Magic Weekend.And guide them he certainly did as Saints beat Hull FC 45-0, a result no one predicted.Six different players scored – Walmsley and Grace bagging braces – but it was Tommy Makinson’s length of the field effort that would live long in the memory.The best was still to come too, as Saints not only signed one of the world’s best players but beat Wigan all in the space of two days.Saints signed Ben Barba up on a two-and-a-half year deal and then beat Wigan 22-19 in one of the best contests at the Totally Wicked Stadium to date.Percival snatching it late.And it got better as Regan Grace agreed a new two-year deal too before the end of the month.JuneTom Holmes’ late try gave Castleford a 16-12 win over Saints – but Holbrook admitted after the game the result showed how good the Tigers were and the work his men still had to put in.They bounced back with a 26-10 win over Widnes but backed that up with a 24-16 loss at Huddersfield.Barba finally arrived in the country too to train with his teammates but couldn’t play until his 12-game suspension had ended.On the field, Matty Smith’s incredible drop goal gave Saints a 25-24 win over Salford … and you simply have to check out the highlights for this one!Jonny Lomax also agreed a new contract.The month ended with a 24-22 loss at Headingley that was packed with controversial moments and a horrible eye injury to Matty Smith.Saints almost repeated a famous Salfordesque win but had left it a little too late to leave Holbrook frustrated.Tomorrow, we will reflect on July, August and September.We’re Saints and Proud … are you? Memberships for the new campaign are now on sale. To find out more click here.