Observer Opinion: The death of Jack Semmens... could things have been different?

WHEN the Observer received a press release from author Jack Semmens, announcing his own death, we suspected that he may have had a medical condition that had prompted him to take his own life.

It was with surprise that we discovered this week that a healthy and active man had planned his death in meticulous detail.

He had simply not wanted to grow old and become a burden on others.

The debate is currently raging as to whether assisted suicide for those with debilitating conditions should be legal in the UK.

What is unusual in this case is that Mr Semmens committed suicide in what seems like a pre-emptive strike.

Is there a chance he would not have taken this route if assisted suicide was legalised? Perhaps if he had known that should his health fail severely and he would be permitted to ask someone to help end his life, Mr Semmens may have acted differently.

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THERE are very real fears that care for the elderly at the Conquest Hospital is slowly being eroded.

The fact the Observer was tipped off by four different sources this week over NHS bosses’ designs on MacDonald ward, a ward that predominantly treats those over the age of 65, shows the genuine concern that the elderly will have no specialist acute care here in 1066 Country.

Managers at the trust say there is more community-based services for older patients and more of them are spending less time in hospital.

Trust managers even say there is no dedicated ward at the Conquest for elderly patients.

But earlier this year Murray ward closed with the loss of 26 beds. And, only last week, we reported on the proposed closure of Benson ward. Both these wards mainly treated older patients.

With the already high percentage of the East Sussex elderly population expected to rise in the future, we need, more than ever, to ensure facilities are in place for aged patients to get the best possible care.

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TRADERS who suffered a disappointing summer must be optimistic the sizzling temperatures this weekend will give their businesses a much-needed boost as crowds flock to the coast. We hope so. And what an unexpected treat for the rest of us. Enjoy the sun!