Right to refuse treatment popular with medical students

BRITISH medical students believe they have the right to refuse treatment to certain patients based on personal and moral grounds, and according to an Australian doctors’ group, that same attitude exists at home.

A survey of more than 700 British medical students found nearly half felt they should be entitled to make conscientious objections to carrying out procedures, including abortions and treating drunk patients.

Non-religious reasons dominated their objections, but about a fifth of students cited religion as the key factor.

While the findings were based on the attitudes of British students, the head of Australia's peak medical body believes similar attitudes exist here and that medical schools might need to step up their teachings on ethical issues.

"[The survey] is a litmus test for the future in that they didn't survey doctors, they surveyed students," AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton told AAP.