Recent and intensifying reports of systematic rationing in the United Kingdom have gone largely unreported. As Sen. Reid, along with the White House and leadership, edges closer towards a final bill, these very real rationing dangers ought to be brought out into the open.
In September, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill wrote a letter to the United Kingdom’s The Daily Telegraph, expressing deep concern over wide-spread treatment of those deemed to be dying.
The letter in part states,
“The Government is rolling out a new treatment pattern of palliative care into hospitals, nursing and residential homes. It is based on experience in a Liverpool hospice. If you tick all the right boxes in the Liverpool Care Pathway, the inevitable outcome of the consequent treatment is death. As a result, a nationwide wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients. Syringe drivers are being used to give continuous terminal sedation, without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.”
The letter from the doctors came a mere week after a report by the UK Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.
The Liverpool Care Pathway to which the doctors refer was initially developed by a Liverpool hospice, and was designed to reduce cancer patient suffering in their final hours (but now includes a vastly larger group). In 2004, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), recommended widespread use. Today, more than 300 hospitals, 130 hospices and 560 care homes in England currently use the system.
Author and lawyer Wesley J. Smith writes,
“The Pathway’s guidelines instruct doctors to put patients thought to be near death into a drug-induced coma, after which all food and fluids, as well as medical treatments such as antibiotics, are withdrawn until death. The problem with such a protocol is that no matter how well motivated — and undoubtedly, the Pathway’s creators had good intentions — follow-the-dots medical protocols often lead to patients’ being treated as members of a category rather than as individuals. At that point, nuance often goes out the door, and mistakes, neglect, and even oppression frequently follow.”
The personal stories filtering through are quite unbelievable.
Nine days ago, the Times of London reported on the case of Hazel Fenton, identified by doctors as terminally ill and left to starve to death – now recovered for nine months (needing only antibiotics and food/fluids) after her daughter intervened.
Seven days ago, The Daily Mail reported, “A grandfather who beat cancer was wrongly told the disease had returned and left to die at a hospice which pioneered a controversial 'death pathway.' Doctors said there was nothing more they could do for 76-year- old Jack Jones, and his family claim he was denied food, water, and medication except painkillers. He died within two weeks. But tests after his death found that his cancer had not come back and he was in fact suffering from pneumonia brought on by a chest infection."
Here is evidence of how Government promulgated rules are leading to outright denials of treatment. We have yet to see a health care restructuring proposal that will provide the kind of long-term sustainable financing needed to prevent this very thing from happening in the U.S. - a fact that ought to be a deep cause of concern.