A HIGH-PROFILE Hagley doctor has told how saying a heart-wrenching goodbye to a long-time friend has flipped his view on assisted dying.

Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist working in Birmingham, says seeing what his terminally ill Belgian friend of 30 years went through before she decided to seek help to end her own life has completely changed his perspective.

Like most medics, the 52-year-old doctor - who is a member of the council of the Royal College of Physicians - had always been firmly opposed to any change in the law to enable euthanasia.

But the death of his friend Fabienne Vanheuverbeke, also 52, (pictured below) who in March this year opted for physician assisted suicide in Belgium after suffering with a rare tumour syndrome for many years, has now prompted a u-turn on his point of view.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

He said: "I had been of the view that most requests for assisted dying were due to a lack of access to good quality palliative care. I was wrong - her palliative care was exemplary. However, in her last week she requested euthanasia.

“There just came a point where she’d had enough."

He said on the one hand it was "unbelievably stressful" knowing the exact time and day his friend was going to die. On the other hand, he felt relief to know she was at peace and he says he was satisfied and “impressed with the safeguards in Belgium” for people taking such a consequential decision.

Although he is quick to stress his view is completely personal - he now believes it is “absolutely inevitable” that UK law will change in the future to help facilitate a dignified death for a minority of patients.

He said: “This is a choice not for doctors but for society. None of us really can picture being in that situation. For some of us it’s completely irrelevant but for the one per cent that may end up in that situation you would want access to it."

He added: “My wife always thought I was wrong and always thought we should have some form of assisted suicide - and she is surprised I’ve changed my view. I know Fabi was also pleased to know my view had changed."