Ethics and Law Special Interest Group (SIG)

This group provides a forum within the BGS for constructive and informed debate on moral and ethical issues.  It informs the BGS policy on matters with an ethical dimension and represents the BGS nationally on a range of related issues. 

We aim to:

  • Identify areas of ethical and legal interest to older people and those working with them and contribute to the ongoing surrounding debate
  • Promote and co-ordinate knowledge and debate through conferences, networking and distribution of relevant material
  • Promote links with other medical ethics groups / committee, e.g via the UK clinical ethics network (UKCEN)
  • Inform the BGS on policy with an ethical and/or legal dimension and, where applicable, represent the BGS on guidelines and consultations
  • Provide web based resources to support and advise on challenging areas – such as DoLS, adult safeguarding, consent and capacity
  •  Provide advice on higher education opportunities in ethics and law (e.g. diplomas, MA/MSc)

The group has a role in several areas:

  1. Policy

In recent years, we have contributed to:

  1. Draft NICE guidance on Consent and Capacity
  2. Draft BMA guidance on Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration for England and Wales
  3. Law Commission report on Deprivation of liberty safeguard
  4. BGS statement on Assisted Dying

2. Theory 

We contribute to theory and debate around medical ethics by: supporting and promoting post graduate training; and promoting understanding of applied medical ethics and approaches to ethical challenges via organisation of educational events and parallel sessions at BGS conferences

3. Practice
We engage and debate with geriatricians and others in the field to examine and develop understanding of applied ethics and its relevance to every day practice.  Key areas for debate include:

  • Assisted nutrition and hydration
  • Consent and capacity
  • Changing attitudes to physician assisted dying around the world
  • Deprivation of Liberty safeguards
  • Legal changes in the DNACPR process and care planning
  • Healthcare rationing and ageism