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Liverpool injury news and expected return dates including Andy Robertson and Darwin Nunez

Liverpool return to action after the international break when they face Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp will be without some key players for the crucial clash, which comes hours before their title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal play each other. The Reds have been hampered by injuries all season long and this weekend will be no exception, with the international break bringing yet more headaches for Klopp. Liverpool sit joint top of the Premier League, behind Arsenal on goal difference, with 10 matches remaining. Sunday’s 2pm fixture against Brighton represents a great opportunity to put pressure on City and Arsenal ahead of their 4.30pm showdown at the Etihad Stadium. Klopp will address the media later this week to give updates on his injury-stricken squad. But in the meantime, Mirror Football gives you a rundown on what we know about those who are doubtful for the match. Andy Robertson Liverpool were handed a fresh injury concern after Robertson was forced off injured while playing for Scotland on Tuesday night. He looked distraught as he limped off in the first half of their defeat against Northern Ireland with an ankle problem following a tough challenge. “He’ll go back to his club and they’ll assess him,” Scotland manager Steve Clarke said post-match. “Hopefully it’s not too serious.” It’s unlikely he will be available this weekend. Joel Matip Matip will not play again for Liverpool this season due to an ACL injury sustained in December. Klopp has urged the club to give the experienced defender a new contract, but if they don’t he has already played his final game for Liverpool. Alisson Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper has been missing since the start of February with a muscle injury. Caoimhin Kelleher has proved to be an able deputy in between the posts and he will have to continue against Brighton, with Alisson not expected back until mid-April. Stefan Bajcetic The 19-year-old midfielder has only played twice this season and not at all since September due to a calf problem. Earlier this month Klopp gave a positive update: “He is in a much better place now. He had a long time [out], unfortunately, that’s [why] we have to wait a little bit. But he is in his pre-season, and I think he will be part of team training after the international break.” Trent Alexander-Arnold The Liverpool right-back has been out with a knee ligament injury since mid-February. He is on the mend, but is unlikely to play against Brighton, with Klopp saying he had “a chance” of returning the week after the international break. Diogo Jota Klopp gave a gloomy prognosis when Jota suffered his knee injury against Brentford in February, saying he would be out for “months”. The Portuguese forward will certainly miss the Brighton game, but Klopp gave him the same chance as Alexander-Arnold of returning next week, meaning he could return for the Manchester United game on April 7. Curtis Jones Better news for Jones, who could return to the squad for the Brighton game. He sustained a knock to his ankle in the Brentford game last month, but is on the way back, with the international break providing time to recuperate. Darwin Nunez Nunez suffered a hamstring injury in the FA Cup loss to United and withdrew from the Uruguay squad in the international break. Klopp said it was “hopefully not bad” but we haven’t heard anything since. He could feature against Brighton, but Liverpool won’t want to risk anything. Thiago Alcantara The Spanish midfielder is unlikely to play again this season due to a thigh complaint. “There’s no timescale,” Klopp said last month. “I don’t know, to be honest. It’s a couple of things [that] he has to do now from a medical point of view, and then I don’t know if that will then mean that he can play again [this season].” Join our new WhatsApp community and receive your daily dose of Mirror Football content. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice.

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Executive committee endorses lower speed limit in Cathedral, new pedestrian safety plan

City councillors voted in favour of the recommendation, after several hours of quizzing city staff, police and other delegates on Regina’s collision data. Delegate Nicole Strandlund enthusiastically endorsed the idea of lowering the speed limit in her neighbourhood. “It bothers me to no end that we are unable to enjoy a morning bike ride to school, or walk with my dog to the grocery store, because we are at risk of being hit by vehicles,” she said. “Reducing the speed limit is an easy first step.” Rolled into the recommendation was also a report prepared by private consultants CIMA Canada Inc., outlining a Vision Zero Framework for the City of Regina to consider adopting. It includes significant analysis of Regina’s traffic collision data and 114 recommended changes the city and other partner agencies could implement to improve walking and cycling safety citywide including infrastructure investment and educational campaigns. Speed limit reductions in other neighbourhoods is also being considered, but in light of two fatalities on 13th Avenue last year, city staff recommend starting in Cathedral.

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Editorial: Sinn Fein keeps being given credit for apologies that are not apologies

Recently Rev Norman Hamilton pointed out in this newspaper that Michelle O’Neill had not apologised over Kenova, yet the BBC reported that she did (click here to read his letter). ​The former Presbyterian moderator noted that Jon Boutcher’s report into the agent Stakeknife called on republican leaders to apologise for IRA “torture and murder” of agents. Rev Hamilton then referred to an article, still on the BBC website (click here to read it), which said that “Ms O’Neill apologised ‘for every single loss of life’”. But she clearly didn’t apologise, so why does the BBC – the national broadcaster, with all its resources – continue to say she did? She used Sinn Fein speak of regretting all deaths. Indeed, this newspaper once challenged a Sinn Fein legal academic who said just that about the IRA murder of another academic, Edgar Graham. He said he regretted it and this was reported by a newspaper as if it was a breakthrough. We however repeatedly asked if he condemned that murder of a politician and lawyer whom the IRA wanted to silence, but this then SF politician just repeated his regret. He even described as “harassment” our efforts to get an answer on whether he condemned the Graham murder. In 2022 we reported Mary Lou McDonald supposedly condemning IRA killings of gardai (click here to read it). In fact she said that “nobody wearing the uniform of An Gardai Siochana should’ve been hurt or harmed”. See the use of the passive? Hurt by what? A hurricane? Now, again, there has been little media scrutiny of SF saying that the killer of Garda Jerry McCabe, the thug Pearse McAuley, should not have been buried in a Tricolour because he wasn’t a republican due to his domestic violence.So again it falls to the News Letter to ask: is any part of your denunciation because he murdered an Irish policeman? Was such an IRA killing wrong? They haven’t answered.

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Widow of ex-Manchester United player who died from dementia demands heading ban

The widow of an ex-Manchester United player who died from dementia is calling for a ban on heading footballs on what should have been his 75th birthday. Frank Kopel died in 2014 aged 65, after a career which included playing for Dundee United, Blackburn Rovers, and Arbroath and Forfar Athletic. His widow, Amanda Kopel, believes his diagnosis was due to brain trauma caused by repeated collisions with other players’ heads while attempting to head the ball during matches, and heading the ball thousands of times during decades of training. The couple married in 1969 and lived together in Kirriemuir, Angus, but Mr Kopel was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and died on April 16 2014. Mrs Kopel collaborated with lobby group Heading Out, founded by ex-journalist Mike Edwards, who gave up his career at STV to care for his mother when she was diagnosed with dementia, and who is calling for an end to heading the ball by 2030. The organisation cited findings of an academic study which revealed that footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to receive a diagnosis of a neuropathological disease like dementia, and five times more likely if they were a defender. Mother-of-one Mrs Kopel successfully campaigned for Frank’s Law, which was introduced in Scotland in 2019, extending free personal care to under-65s. Mrs Kopel said: “Frankie and I should be celebrating today and looking forward to the rest of our lives together, instead I’ve been grieving his loss and mourning him for 10 years. “Football has to change because the game is a long, slow, certain killer while heading the ball is part of it. “The game is called football not headball and the rules have to change. “Nobody should head a ball – particularly children. Frankie loved the game but we never imagined for a moment it was so damaging. “Fifa and the IFAB have a duty of care to protect the next generation of players, particularly with the Euros about to start.” Mr Edwards added: “We learn from an early age not to handle the ball, surely we can learn not to head it either. “Scotland has led the way by banning children from heading the ball in training and adult players from heading in the 24 hours before and after a game. I’d like to see the practice banned altogether after the 2030 World Cup, which I think is a reasonable deadline. “Not heading the ball will save players’ lives.”

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Spending problems dubbed ‘Big Nasties’ await future government – watchdog

Major investment is required across departments to deal with problems caused by a “lack of forward thinking” from Government, the head of the Commons spending watchdog has warned. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier issued a report which focuses on three major recommendations for a future government. These include long-term thinking and investment, resilience, and risk management and understanding. The report outlines major spending problems, dubbed “the Big Nasties”, that Government will have to grapple with, including poor infrastructure in hospitals, schools and prisons, and a skills deficit across departments. Labour MP Dame Meg warned that funds for long-term projects being used for day-to-day spending has created systemic problems requiring significant investment. The report states: “Government does not do enough to plan for the long term, or to provide long-term investment for its policies. “This not only causes problems now but leaves problems that will be critical in the future. “Lack of forward thinking means leaving problems that are more costly and more urgent until they get to a point where they can no longer be ignored.” Government needs to improve its ability to plan ahead, the report finds, stating: “Failure to embed resilience into policies has caused major problems, which will cost time and money to resolve. “The five-year electoral cycle leads to a belief or hope that a catastrophic incident will not take place on our watch.” In relation to health, Dame Meg found that NHS targets for waiting times have not been met for four years, and targets for cancer services not met for six years, which, combined with an ageing population, means more will need to be invested in treatment and prevention. Hospital buildings are flagged as a major issue that is preventing the NHS from modernising and hampering productivity. The Department of Health and Social care is accused of “raiding” capital budget funds, and the report warns against any future reduction in capital investment to plug gaps in day-to-day spending. Similarly in education, Dame Meg warned that a lack of long-term investment has resulted in over 700,000 students learning in a school that needs major rebuilding or refurbishment, and 38% of school buildings are beyond their initial design life. The report states: “The Department for Education does not have a good enough understanding of safety risks, including asbestos and reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), across school buildings for it to fully quantify and mitigate them.” Dame Meg highlighted that primary and secondary schools are struggling to cope with numbers of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) despite 81.3% of local authorities overspending their high-needs budget in 2017–18. If unaddressed, SEND children will remain in a “postcode lottery”, unable to receive the same education as mainstream peers. The report states the Ministry of Defence has “repeatedly made decisions on short-term affordability grounds which have increased costs in the longer term and led to poor value for money”, adding that the department “has not had the discipline to balance its budgets”. In relation to justice, Dame Meg said the Government “consistently underestimates the scale and complexity of reforms” necessary to decrease court backlogs. As with health and education, infrastructure is flagged as a major problem for the Department of Justice, with the report stating that 500 prison places each year are taken “permanently out of action” due to poor conditions. With local government spending falling by more than 50% from 2010/11 to 2020/21, the report states local authorities are “under severe financial pressure”. Dame Meg also raised areas requiring spending across departments, including a lack of specialist skills and replacing outdated IT systems. According to findings in the report, in 2018/2019 the Government spent an estimated £980 million on management consultant fees to fill the skills gap. It adds: “The lack of skills must be addressed otherwise there will be huge risks to delivery of major capital projects”. Commenting on the report, the SNP’s economy spokesperson, Drew Hendry MP, said it “lays bare the reality of broken, Brexit Britain”. He said: “It is a damning indictment of the Tory government’s decade-long wasteful approach to taxpayers’ money and disregard for public services – and it should serve as a wake-up call to an incoming Labour government.” The report is underpinned both by the cross-party committee’s scrutiny work and Dame Meg’s observations from 13 years serving on the PAC. A spokesperson for the Treasury said: “The Government is protecting the record 2020 increase in capital spending, delivering over £600 billion of planned public sector investment over the next five years. “This builds on the record £30 billion real terms increase in capital budgets over this Parliament. Any transfers between capital and day to day spending are not from delaying critical capital works but from underspends in certain areas. These underspends can be used to manage wider priorities.”

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‘Growing buyer confidence’ in housing market as sale discounts get smaller

House sellers are typically shaving £10,000 off their original asking price to achieve a sale, according to a property website. Across the UK, the average discount of 3.9% recorded in March is a “marked improvement” compared with an average discount of £14,250 or 4.5% recorded in November 2023, Zoopla said. Its report said the narrowing “reflects a combination of greater realism from sellers on their asking price and growing buyer confidence”. Discounts typically remain bigger in London and the South East, where there is an average discount to the asking price of 4.3% or £19,500, Zoopla said. The average discount was calculated based on all house sales recorded by Zoopla, including those where there was no discount. The website said that housing market activity, including sales and the supply of properties for buyers to choose from, has improved in the first quarter of this year. Zoopla said around 7% more home sales have been agreed over the first quarter of 2024 compared with the same period last year. Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West of England have been seeing particularly strong growth in sales while the South West and the North East of England have seen relatively strong growth in new sellers coming to market, the website said. It predicted that the greater availability of homes for sale will keep price rises in check. The average estate agent had nearly 30 homes for sale in the first quarter of this year, which is in line with the pre-coronavirus pandemic average, Zoopla said. This means buyers have more choice and room to negotiate, the website added. The timing and scale of expected Bank of England interest rate reductions as the year goes on have the potential to boost market sentiment and reduce mortgage rates, Zoopla said. Expectations of lower interest rates are already priced into the fixed-rate mortgages on offer, and lower interest rates would likely result in further modest declines in mortgage rates, the website added. Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla, said: “Rising wages and falling mortgage rates have boosted consumer confidence and this is feeding into improving levels of housing market activity over the first quarter of 2024. “House prices are falling at a slower rate but it remains a buyers market where there is much greater choice of homes for sale. “We don’t believe that house prices are about to increase more quickly but there is more buyer interest. Sellers need to remain realistic on where they set the asking price if they are to take advantage of improving market conditions to secure a sale and move home in 2024.” Marc von Grundherr, director of estate agent Benham and Reeves, said: “Previously, the ability to find a buyer in a proceedable position was a challenge in itself and so there’s no doubt that market conditions have improved in this respect. “Price remains the key compromise for sellers when it comes to securing a buyer in today’s market, with higher mortgage rates continuing to restrict buyer purchasing power. However, the gap between this purchasing power price point and seller asking price expectation has narrowed and we’re finding that sellers are more than happy to oblige in order to make their move.” Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “Demand in the UK housing market has improved but hasn’t come off the leash yet… “As supply grows, downwards pressure on prices will increase and a wave of people rolling off sub-2% two-year mortgages from early 2022 will add to the financial pressures in the system.” Matt Thompson, head of sales at London-based estate agent Chestertons, said: “March concluded the first quarter of the year with a busy property market – particularly in the capital where demand continues to outstrip supply.”

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Essays written with ChatGPT feature repetition of words and ideas – study

Repetition of words, tautology and paragraphs starting with “however” are some tell-tale features of ChatGPT’s writing style, researchers have found. The writing style of the artificial intelligence tool is “bland” and “journalistic”, according to a Cambridge University Press and Assessment study. It comes after the rise of generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, has sparked concerns about cheating among pupils in the education sector. Researchers compared essays written by three first-year undergraduate students, with the aid of ChatGPT, with 164 essays written by IGCSE students. These essays were marked by examiners and the undergraduates were then interviewed and their essays were analysed. The study found essays written with the help of ChatGPT performed poorly on analysis and comparison skills compared to non-ChatGPT-assisted essays. But ChatGPT-assisted essays performed strongly on information and reflection skills. Researchers identified a number of key features of the ChatGPT writing style, which included the use of Latinate vocabulary, repetition of words or phrases and ideas, and pleonasms. Essays written with the help of ChatGPT were also more likely to use paragraphs starting with discourse markers like “however”, “moreover”, and “overall”, and numbered lists with items. The researchers said ChatGPT’s default writing style “echoes the bland, clipped, and objective style that characterises much generic journalistic writing found on the internet”. The report said: “The students found ChatGPT useful for gathering information quickly. “However, they considered that complete reliance on this technology would produce essays of a low academic standard.” Lead researcher Jude Brady, of Cambridge University Press and Assessment, said: “Our findings offer insights into the growing area of generative AI and assessment, which is still largely uncharted territory. “Despite the small sample size, we are excited about these findings as they have the capacity to inform the work of teachers as well as students.” She added: “We hope our research might help people to identify when a piece of text has been written by ChatGPT. “For students and the wider population, learning to use and detect generative AI forms an increasingly important aspect of digital literacy.”

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Study to probe whether outdoor swimming can reduce symptoms of depression

Researchers are seeking hundreds of people to take part in the first large study into whether outdoor swimming can reduce symptoms of depression. Open water bathing has been praised as a way to improve wellbeing in the last few years, with emerging evidence that it can have a positive impact on mental health, experts said. The number of adults experiencing moderate to severe depression in the UK doubled to nearly one in five between March and June 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to one in 10 before the crisis. The research call comes after the first clinical trial into its benefits for adults with depression was completed last year. Experts from the University of Portsmouth and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust worked with 87 people with mental health difficulties to see if they would sign up for the project and remain engaged until the end of the programme. Dr Heather Massey, who is co-leading the new study, said the initial trial results were “really promising”. The University of Portsmouth senior lecturer said: “We reported reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety in the outdoor swimming group compared with the control group, and there was a lower number of them seeking depression-specific therapy post-treatment and at follow-up. “The use of antidepressants and sleeping tablets, on average, also reduced more. “Our next task is to see if a full-scale randomised control trial produces similar results. If we can demonstrate outdoor swimming is a viable and cost-effective treatment for depression, it has the potential to be rolled out across the UK.” The further study called Outside will be rolled out across 15 sites in England in a two-and-a-half year study aiming to explore if people with mild to moderate depression benefit from an outdoor swimming course. Researchers will monitor whether the activity leads to a reduction in depressive symptoms and anxiety for up to 38 weeks following the trial. They will also see if it improves mindfulness and is a safe and cost-effective treatment to run. Richard Williams, from Worcestershire, was among those to take part in the first study at the Lenches lakes in Evesham. He suffered from depression and anxiety for years and in 2022 tried to take his own life. “I was at a real low point in my life, and felt completely alone,” the 41-year-old said. “After hitting rock bottom I decided to reach out to the Samaritans charity and eventually felt ready to go home and work on myself. I began therapy, and that’s how I found out about the cold water immersion study.” He added: “It has completely changed my life. I’m swimming twice a week, in a cold tub every day and even signed up to an Ironman. “So I’ve gone from a recovering alcoholic and recluse into firing on all cylinders now, and wanting to help others and spread the word.” The research project will host swimming sessions across the country including Brighton, Maidstone, Sunderland, Windermere, Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester and Penzance. The settings will be a mix of sea swimming, lakes and semi-heated outdoor pools. Clara Strauss, research deputy director at Sussex Partnership, said: “This is the first large trial of its kind that will tell us if outdoor swimming is helpful for people living with depression. “If it is, this could increase the range of options available to people as they find their path to recovery.”

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Big four broadband firms beaten by smaller rivals in latest Which? survey

The UK’s four biggest broadband providers have been beaten by smaller rivals in the latest customer survey carried out by consumer champion Which?. The group’s latest broadband rankings placed Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk below smaller rivals – including Zen Internet, Hyperoptic and Community Fibre, which topped the table based on a survey of 4,471 people with a home broadband contract. Virgin Media finished bottom in the rankings, according to the survey, receiving the lowest scores in the areas of customer service and communication. Sky was second bottom, receiving the lowest rank for connection speed, while BT scored poorly on value for money, and TalkTalk received low ratings for customer service and communication. Community Fibre was the top-scoring broadband provider; however, Which? said it is not eligible for its Recommended Provider status because it implements mid-contract price rises, and has not signed up to regulator Ofcom’s broadband speeds code of practice and automatic compensation scheme. Which? said it is calling on Ofcom to ban inflation-linked price rises, and added that it is concerned about consumer feedback in its survey relate to poor customer service. It said it will continue to call out the worst providers in key customer service areas in broadband and other sectors, and demand urgent improvements. Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Our latest broadband provider rankings show that consumers could be better off choosing a smaller company which prioritises customer service over a giant that also stings them with unfair mid-contract price rises. “Customers with contracts that are ending soon should look at their switching options as our research found that consumers that did that saved almost £100 on average. “Providers planning to cash in one last time in April with unfair mid-contract price hikes must do the right thing and adopt Ofcom’s proposals as soon as possible, while firms falling short on customer service must up their game.” A spokesperson for Virgin Media said: “We always work hard to provide our millions of customers with excellent service and we’re continuing to make changes across our business to deliver a better experience. “Which?’s own analysis shows we continue to offer excellent value, with customers paying an average of just 10p more per day for services they use constantly. “The amount we receive from price increases is greatly outweighed by the £5 million we invest every single day to upgrade our networks and services, and meet ever rising demand.”

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Dame Esther Rantzen hails ‘historic’ assisted dying legislation at Holyrood

Veteran broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen has hailed “historic” assisted dying legislation that will be introduced at Holyrood on Thursday. The TV presenter, who has revealed she is considering travelling to Switzerland for an assisted death after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, said those who are terminally ill should have the “right to choose”. She was speaking as Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur prepared to publish a Bill at the Scottish Parliament that, if passed, will allow people living in Scotland with a terminal illness to be given help to end their life. Mr McArthur has said he is “absolutely convinced” the “long-overdue reform” will become law. Dame Esther said: “I want to congratulate the Scottish Parliament for prioritising this debate so that they can carefully consider this crucial issue and scrutinise this historic assisted dying Bill. “The current law is cruel, complicated and causes terrible suffering to vulnerable people. “I have received dozens of letters from people describing the agonising deaths of those they loved. This is literally a life and death issue, and I believe terminally ill patients like me need and deserve the right to choose this option if our lives become intolerable.” Former nurse Patricia Donoghue is amongst those who have spoken in favour of Mr McArthur’s Assisted Dying For Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill. The 69-year-old, from Glasgow, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after watching her husband Kevan die from cancer eight years ago. He was told he had a rare form of bile duct cancer 18 months before that, with the disease leaving him unable to eat or drink in his final three weeks of life. Mrs Donoghue said her husband, who had worked in social care prior to retiring, had been in constant pain. She told the PA news agency: “He accepted death, but why did he have to suffer like that for three weeks? “I know if assisted dying were an option, he would have wanted it. “He would have said ‘I’ve tried. I’ve had enough, I’ve done enough. I want to go’. “We think of Britain as being advanced, but we are not. “Leaving people to suffer in the final stages of their life is far from advanced – it’s cruel. “I can’t change what happened to Kevan, but I want it to change for others in the future. “People are suffering and having a horrible time of it, all being made worse by this cruel law. “You can’t sit on the fence with this issue, it needs to change.” Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said the legislation is an “important milestone towards terminally ill people in Scotland having the choice at the end of their lives that is so urgently needed”. She added: “It is a historic day for Scotland and for those who have campaigned tirelessly for a safer, more compassionate law, many having felt the devastating effects of the status quo first-hand. “It also parks the issue of assisted dying firmly on Westminster’s doorstep.” Mr McArthur’s Bill marks the third time MSPs will have considered the issue, with previous attempts to change the law by independent MSP Margo MacDonald – who later died as a result of Parkinson’s disease – and Green MSP Patrick Harvie both failing to secure enough votes to proceed. However, the Liberal Democrat MSP has said he believes the “political mood has changed” since the issue was last before Holyrood in 2015. His Bill would require two doctors – including one with no prior relationship with the patient – to confirm the person is terminally ill and also has the capacity to request an assisted death. In addition, there would be a waiting period of two weeks before a patient could be given the medication needed for an assisted death, which they would have to be able to take themselves. Doctors and others opposed to the procedure would be able to exempt themselves from being involved, and there would also be a requirement for anyone requesting an assisted death to have lived in Scotland for at least a year beforehand. The Bill is being introduced at Holyrood a week after proposals for an assisted dying law in Jersey were published.

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