Sunday, 4 September 2011

Liverpool Care Pathway - Into That Darkness?

Speaking at the Opcare9 event Professor John Ellershaw, Professor of Palliative Medicine, MCPCIL Director and OPCARE9 Scientific Project Co-ordinator, said: "A good death should be the norm not the exception in our society.  We believe that it is possible to achieve a dignified death and provide appropriate support to relatives and carers by transferring the hospice model of care into all care settings, supported by robust education and training.
"A bad death is no longer acceptable.  The time for change is now.  When we care for the dying, we have only one chance to get it right.  Training must be recognised as part of the core business of any organisation that cares for dying people.”

Has the good professor not taken proper note and heed of what is happening to our old ones in hospitals and care homes the length and breadth of this land? Just refer to those accounts reported here. Just refer to those accounts reported in the press for over a decade and more!

The groundwork of a 'good death' has to be a good life.

We say: "A good life should be the norm not the exception in our society!”

This determination to make provision for a ‘good death’ is become an obsession that appears to over-ride any concern whatsoever for the provision of a good life. Well, that says it all.

A culture of death is pervading the NHS in the UK. A dark shadow is stalking our hospitals and care homes. The right to death is becoming paramount over the right to life!

The DOH, through its CQUIN policy, is determined to push through this Death Pathway policy.

It used to be that you would go into hospital and they would fight to keep you alive and get you well; now, that is all thrown out the window.

Now, they will look for signs of death to place you on Death Road. Death by induction will proceed whether or not you wish it or desire it.

Is this, perchance, some act of perverse 'kindness' on their part? Is this, perchance, some act of perverse policy?

Into That Darkness

Through the LCP, so-called ‘living wills’ and the pressure for new laws on euthanasia, the groundwork is being laid for a return to that darkness out of which grew the Hitler death camps.

Is that an extreme statement to make?

“The country does not consist entirely of families happy to pay whatever it takes to keep an elderly relative in care-home fees.” (The Independent, Tuesday 14th June 2011) 

There may come a time when the unaffordable will realise, finally, the unthinkable.

The Independent headlines:
Dominic Lawson: Why the disabled fear assisted suicide
Lawson writes:

It is clear that the intended beneficiaries of Pratchett's campaign must be those who are physically incapacitated – as he fears he will be: the fully able-bodied need not call upon others to kill us. For this reason, any legislators thinking of backing Pratchett's cause would do well to consult the members of the charity Scope. Scope represents the hundreds of thousands of Britons with cerebral palsy, far and away the most common form of congenital physical disability and which affects, to a greater or lesser extent, one in every 400 children born in the UK

The chief executive of Scope, Richard Hawkes, having observed the head of steam building up behind the campaign for voluntary euthanasia, has sensibly been spending much of his time consulting his members, and other disability groups, about their feelings on this matter. Last month Scope released one of the results, a poll by ComRes, which revealed that no fewer than 70 per cent of disabled people are concerned that the changes in the law advocated by Pratchett would create pressure on vulnerable patients to ‘end their lives prematurely'.

It may seem rather bleak to suspect one's own relatives of exerting insidious influence of that sort – albeit dressed up as the most altruistic concern; but unfortunately the country does not consist entirely of families happy to pay whatever it takes to keep an elderly relative going even if that means that their hoped-for inheritance is swallowed up by that same relative's care-home fees. It is not necessary to speculate as to whether the old lady in the care home might feel obliged to "do the decent thing" for her descendants; one need only read a letter to The Times from a 90-year-old named Margaret White in which she wrote: "I am happy here in the nursing home with no wish to die, but were voluntary euthanasia to be made legal I would feel it my absolute duty to ask for it as I now have 19 descendants who need my legacy. I am sure I am not alone in this resolution."

The issue is not just one of family pressure. The Government, too, is under enormous financial constraints as a result of the rapidly growing costs of care for the old and physically dependent. I would not claim that it is financial consideration which persuades some hospital doctors to place "do not resuscitate" signs at the foot of the beds of the disabled, without consulting them: but still, it happens, and it speaks of a cast of mind that already seriously underestimates the value of the lives of those who have never been able-bodied, one which would seize on the idea of assisted suicide as a happy outcome for all concerned.”

It might not, therefore, appear so extreme to add that financial considerations also persuade Business managers and some hospital doctors to place patients on death road without consulting them: it happens, and it speaks of a cast of mind that already seriously underestimates the value of the lives of those who have reached a frailty of body and mind, one which would seize on such a course of action as a happy outcome for all concerned as an act of some perverse 'kindness'.

Last Word

Of the opinions expressed Lawson adds:

Valerie had told the group earlier that she had spent 20 years "falling in and out of depression" until therapy had enabled her to come to terms with her cerebral palsy. Since then she had had a remarkable life, despite her severe disability: she had become a senior research officer in the Civil Aviation Authority's Economics Division and since her retirement had, as she put it, "sat on many committees, but have now reduced these to about six". It is easy to see how under a system of legalised assisted suicide, Valerie's earlier years of depression at her condition might well have been ended; and as Richard Hawkes points out, "the thing about suicide is that it doesn't allow for second thoughts".

The thing about LCP is that, mostly, it doesn't allow for 'second thoughts' either.

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