AN Edge Hill lecturer is to be at the forefront of ensuring health professionals can cope with the ethical dilemmas they face in their work.

Jacqui Hitchen has been appointed to the role of Learning and Teaching Consultant in Ethics and Legal Aspects of Healthcare for the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN). The LTSN is a national body which aims to promote high quality learning and teaching in higher education.

Jacqui, a senior lecturer in the Continuing Education department of Edge Hill’s School of Health Studies, hopes to raise awareness of ethical and legal issues within the health and social care arena. She also plans to encourage constructive debate on the ethico-legal challenges facing health professionals across all disciplines.

She said: “When most people think of ethical issues in nursing they think of abortion and euthanasia, but there are many other issues emerging as science develops. Carers and those who teach carers need to be prepared to cope with the dilemmas created by these scientific advancements. There are new challenges for people to consider.

“Ethical issues have been in the news recently through cases such as Diane Pretty, Miss B, the Bristol Heart Unit and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital scandals. These tragic cases highlight the inter-relationship between ethics and the law, traditionally areas that do not make ‘easy bedfellows’.

“Similarly, concern is raised in regard to the advancement in genetic engineering, the potential for ‘designer babies’ and babies being born purely as a means to an end, for example, a baby being conceived in order to act as a potential bone marrow donor for a sibling.

“These demonstrate the need for an emphasis to be placed upon the development of philosophy, ethics and the law when health professionals are being educated and trained.”

Jacqui, who has an MA in Health and Community Ethics, joined Edge Hill in 1995.