NOW that assisted dying is back on the discussion agenda, I wonder if the subject is too polarised, and whether perhaps a more nuanced approach is necessary.

A relative of mine recently died in hospital, having existed for several days in excruciating pain on which the legal maximum palliative relief had no effect, while his wife and family had to sit by his bedside and watch as he kept pleading for release from the torture. Since this level of suffering is such as we would not allow an animal to endure, I cannot understand how it can be considered acceptable to inflict it on a human being, and I can only imagine the nightmare for the family at the bedside, let alone the trauma they will now have to live with for the rest of their days.

I once heard an Australian doctor suggest that this was not a matter of obeying the Hippocratic oath to prolong life but was simply prolonging death. Some say it is allowing nature to take its course, not deliberately ending a life, but if letting nature take its course is the correct approach, why treat other life-threatening illnesses and diseases? Is the reason in these other instances not to end suffering? Granted that the end result is hopefully to restore a viable life, does that mean suffering should continue, no matter how unbearable, simply because death is the inevitable end?

I believe that relieving suffering is a duty under the Hippocractic oath that takes precedence over preserving life. For that reason, if at the end a patient is suffering ongoing excruciating pain, the prime consideration should be to alleviate that, even if the treatment may possibly, or even certainly, hasten the inevitable death. At least then there can be a dignified, peaceful and pain-free end to life. Where is the dignity or peace in a long-drawn-out death in agony?

Can we not stop regarding this as a question of “assisted dying” and instead regard it as a humanitarian process of alleviating suffering? Should we not allow whatever level of palliative treatment the degree of suffering requires, and regard the possible hastening of death as a compassionate side-effect? At the very least, we should allow people to put their wish for this in writing and guarantee to honour that wish. At the very least, can we not accept that concession? This is exactly what I would wish for myself.

P Davidson

I THINK Charlie Kerr (Letters, September 4) is quite correct – yes, there are a lot of good-quality Scottish products available, as you would fully expect there to be.

However, I think he has missed the point that I’m making, which is after receiving many many hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidy, our local farmers and landowners just manage to compete price-wise against the equivalent products produced without any subsidy payment at all and then transported from New Zealand 12000 miles to the market place.

To put this amount of money in perspective – it is in the top five of spending areas of the Scottish Government. Something’s just not right!!!

Does Mr Kerr think that the Scottish consumer/taxpayer is getting value for money in this scenario?? It’s basic economics and arithmetic – we are being ripped off somewhere along the line.

Review and payment by results is required. It would be interesting to find out how the payments are divided up and how much is actually paid to hard-working farmers and producers in Scotland and how much exits from Scotland to landowners who are based in the various tax havens across the globe.

Dougie Gray

WHILST I agree with Charlie Kerr’s letter of September spare a thought for those of us in rural areas where the main food supplier is the Co-op, once a proud supporter of Scottish products, labelled with the Saltire.

I contacted the Co-op to ask, “Why is there suddenly a plethora of Union Jacks on your food packaging?” They replied that “Quite often ... we will use a generic ‘British’ design to give us flexibility with the sourcing of the product.”

We do have an excellent deli but it’s more expensive, and although products are loose, I often wonder if they too come from boxes with the Union Jack on them? I do try to do without certain items but sometimes it’s a losing battle! I bought Yeo Valley yoghurt – no Jack visible but when I took off the wrapping to recycle, there it was on the inside!

To go to my nearest Aldi would involve a round trip of 68 miles!

Elizabeth Wilson

REGARDING the letter from Mr Kerr and Union Jackery on food labelling, I totally agree with him and we should all not only stop shopping in such supermarkets but ask to speak to managers and politely explain why we will no longer shop at their store. Like Mr Kerr I now do most of my shopping in Aldi. Very little produce with Union flags on it but in any case loads of Saltire goods.

So, if you’ve got an Aldi or Lidl store near you, go for it. Stuff the Unionists, fight back with your cash!

Ian Heggie