Olivier Veran, government spokesman and Minister Representative responsible for Democratic Renewal, and Agnes Firmin Le Bodeau, Minister Representative responsible for Territorial Organization and Health Professions, are traveling to Occitania on Thursday as part of end-of-life discussions. They will be accompanied by deputies who are members of one of the working groups on the topic.
During this visit, the two ministers will meet with public and private hospital health professionals in Narbonne (Aude) and discuss end of life with them. And will visit the palliative care unit trained by Claire Fourcade, president of the French Palliative Care Society. Olivier Veran should also meet with medical trainees on this topic. And Agnès Firmin Le Bodo will go to the palliative care department of the Montpellier University Hospital (Hérault).
During the trip, they must publicly disclose the results of a BVA survey commissioned by the National Center for Palliative and End-of-Life Care.
Citizens’ Convention and two working groups
This first joint visit by the two ministers should showcase what they have done in the past few weeks. Olivier Veran and Agnès Firmin Le Bodo are leading two working groups in parallel to the Citizens’ Convention which will be held at the end of next week. Apart from the Republicans, one in fifteen parliamentarians abstained from the groups participating in the Assembly and the Senate. Another is 37 medical workers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, order of doctors, etc. from various medical societies (palliative care, oncology, pediatrics, neurology, etc.). One of them is Claire Fourcade.
A working group led by academic Eric Orsenna is also working to develop a lexicon of end-of-life words. One way of dealing with pedagogy and clarifying technical terms, we note in Olivier Vera’s office.
In September, Emmanuel Macron reignited the end-of-life debate after publishing the opinion of the National Advisory Ethics Committee, which for the first time considers it possible to legalize active assisted dying under very strict conditions. During the election campaign and again in September, the President of the Republic stated that he was in favor of such a development. Temporarily, it seems, so as not to strain the debate that has been going on ever since.
Works presented in March
In this first visit, the attention given to palliative care is not small. The government wants to show that this topic has a full share in thinking about the end of life. A way to overcome opposition among supporters of legalizing active assistance in dying, supported by the Right to Die with Dignity Association and the Palliative Care Society. First of all, they require more resources. Despite the fifth palliative care development plan, twenty-six departments remain without care units. Going to meet with nurses, ministers want to listen and reassure.
150 citizens selected by lottery from the Citizens’ Convention will present their work in March. In turn, two working groups mobilized by February will be offered thematic workshops, particularly around the issue of waiting for the end of life, advanced directives, palliative care and their development. They will also discuss carers and bereavement support. The first seminar will be held in the second half of December. In January and February, visits will also be organized to neighboring countries that have adopted a special law on active assistance in dying: Belgium, Switzerland, as well as Italy and Spain. But Olivier Vera’s office says the two working groups do not intend to issue a specific opinion at the end of their work.