A TERMINALLY ill former Oxford GP who wants the ‘right to die’ is preparing to take on the Government to change the law on assisted suicide.

At the moment, the act of assisting the terminally ill to kill themsleves is forbidden by the 1961 Suicide Act.

But Dr Ann McPherson, who has been told she is dying of pancreatic cancer, wants the right to choose to end her life should the time come.

She has set up a group of 12 health professionals, the first of its kind, to lobby for patients to be given the right to die.

Dr McPherson, who worked at a practice in Beaumont Street, Oxford city centre, for 30 years, said: “I don’t know if I would choose to take my own life when it comes to it.

“But I do know that when I feel I am becoming a burden, I would like the choice to be able to decide to die at home, surrounded by my loved ones.”

Dr McPherson will launch Healthcare Professionals for Change on Wednesday at the London headquarters of the King’s Fund, a healthcare think tank, in Cavendish Square.

It is the only official group supporting the right to die to be made up of health professionals.

Dr McPherson said that when she worked as a GP she was regularly faced with terminally ill patients who wanted the option of a “dignified death” but could do nothing to help them.

She added: “I wrote a piece on my personal view on the right to die in a medical journal 18 months ago. I got a lot of response from other health professionals who said they supported what I was saying.

“The aim of the group is to represent the views of the many professionals who support a change in the law to allow the the choice of safeguarded assisted dying.”

But Roger Burne, a retired Cowley Road GP and now assistant priest of Church of the Holy Family in Blackbird Leys, said the issue was fraught with difficulty.

Mr Burne, a former medical director of Helen & Douglas House, a respite and end-of-life hospice, said: “It’s asking the doctor, whose role is to prolong life, but not at any cost, to be complicit in the death of a patient.

“The law doesn’t allow us to go around causing the death of other people, even when it’s consensual.

“Life is for God. It’s not for us to determine how and when it ends.”

Almost all of the major professional health bodies oppose any change in the law which would allow doctors to help a patient end their life, including the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society of Medicine.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of BMA Sciences and Ethics, said the association had a firm policy on the issue.

She said: “We are opposed to the legalisation of assisted dying and we are not lobbying for any change in the law.”

But last year the Royal College of Nursing dropped its offical oppostion to the law change.