A Short Stay in Switzerland

January 28, 2009

A Short Stay in Switzerland is a BBC dramatisation telling the true story of Dr Anne Turner. Diagnosed with the degenerative neurological condition Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and facing progressive deterioration in her condition, Dr Turner decided that she would end her own life by travelling to the Swiss clinic ‘Dignitas’. Unlike the UK, assisted euthanasia is legal in Switzerland. A Short Stay in Switzerland tells a highly emotive account of a woman who wishes to “die with dignity”, a decision eventually supported by her children.

00. The moment Dr Anne Turner tells her children that she has PSP.

A Short Stay In Switzerland - BBC 1 Sunday 25th January 2009, 21:00. The moment Dr Anne Turner tells her children that she has PSP.

The programme follows the events during the final stages of Anne Turner’s life. Although the dramatisation attempts to illustrate events as accurately as possible, it does so with a clear agenda in favour of her autonomous decision and it does not discuss the other possible alternatives when faced with such a situation in any detail.

There is, however, a section of the programme which shows Dr Turner’s children attempting to convince her that her life is worth living and that they can provide palliative care for her (00:25 :10 – 00:33:33). In this specific case, Dr Turner succeeds in her wish after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in her home persuades her children how determined she is. (Warning:  if using the section indicated by the timings above, please be aware that the scenes that follow, graphically depict Turner’s earlier suicide attempt and therefore may not be suitable for all audiences).

There is also a BBC news article about the programme and you may be interested in this post on Panorama – I’ll die when I choose.

BBC News article 22nd January 2009. 'A Short Stay in Switzerland'.

BBC News article 22nd January 2009. 'A Short Stay in Switzerland'.

 A Short Stay in Switzerland was first broadcast on BBC 1 21:00 – 22:30  (90 minutes) Sunday 25th January 2009, and is available on BBC iPlayer until 10:29pm Sunday 1st February 2009.


Beating the NHS postcode lottery – Dom’s on the Case

September 25, 2008
Visit the Dom's on the Case hompage at BBC iPlayer

Visit the "Dom's on the Case" homepage at BBC iPlayer

2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the National Health Service (the NHS) in the UK. While it has undoubtedly served the British public well in that time, the five part BBC1 series Dom’s on the Case continues the current trend for documentary programming which investigates inequalities with the NHS system, specifically geographical inequalities which arise from the so called ‘postcode lottery’.

Previous BioethicsBytes posts have highlighted resources which have examined this issue in detail (including The NHS Postcode Lottery: It Could Be You – Panorama and Herceptin: Wanting the wonder drug – Panorama), so here we highlight some additional issues raised within the third episode of Dom’s on the Case, which was first broadcast on BBC1 on Wednesday 24th September 2008, at 09.15. In this 45 minute programme, reporter Dom Littlewood highlights some of the inequalities which arise from differential prescription charging and access to drugs across the UK. While the programme’s tone may seem excessively negative – insofar as it presents only the perspectives of aggrieved patients and members of the public – it offers a number of short clips which provide concise descriptions of the various sources of inequality. Further it highlights the extreme measures that some patients feel forced to take in order to “beat the postcode lottery” (00:10:05) and access the drugs and treatment they feel they deserve.

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