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The University of Southampton
Medical Education

Peta debates Big Questions

Published: 23 March 2018
Dr Peta Coulson-Smith
Dr Peta Coulson-Smith, Senior Teaching Fellow Clinical Ethics and Law

The Big Questions is a BBC One programme hosted by Nicky Campbell which examines contemporary moral, political and religious issues.

This week, the debate asked, “Should doctors decide whether to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in children?” and using her background in paediatrics and ethics, Peta Coulson-Smith, Senior Teaching Fellow in Clinical Ethics and Law, explored how decision making in collaboration with parents should be fundamental in meeting a child’s best interests.

The discussion explored some of the issues around keeping children alive beyond the means by which there are treatments available, suffering, quality of life, resources issues and the impact of social media following high profile recent court cases.

Parents of children with life-limiting conditions represented a variety of views in the programme and they provided an insightful, brave and eloquent narrative.

The episode can be viewed at and the debate begins at 30 minutes.

More information about the work of Clinical Ethics and Law at Southampton can be found here.

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