In a letter to the London Daily Telegraph – and a foreshadowing of America under “Obamacare” — six British physicians have blown the whistle on a systematic effort within the National Health Service to hasten the death of elderly patients in order to free up bed space.
“The Liverpool Care Pathway [LCP], which got its name as it was developed at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the 1990s, withholds fluids and drugs in a patient’s final days and is used with 29 percent of hospital patients at the end of their lives,” observes the Telegraph. “The practice is backed by the Department of Health. But the six experts told the Daily Telegraph that in the elderly, natural death was more often free of pain and distress. The group warned that not all doctors were acquiring the correct consent from patients and are failing to ask about what they wanted while they were still able to decide.”
Understandably, this has prompted many patients to carry “a card stating that they do not want this `pathway’ treatment in the last days of their lives,” continues the report. Apparently, the default assumption is that active euthanasia will ensue — unless an elderly patient explicitly and repeatedly asks not to be hastened along the path to the hereafter.
“If you are cynical about it, as I am, you can see it as a cost-cutting measure, if you don’t want your beds to be filled with old people,” commented an astringently disapproving Dr. Gillian Craig, former vice-chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance.
Since long-term chronic care for the elderly will soon become the largest factor in increasing health care costs, government-managed health systems will be increasingly hard-pressed to deal with the problem of so-called “bed blockers.” Critics of the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the Obamacare measure predict that it will become, in effect, a health care rationing soviet, withholding treatment from people seen to be an unsuitable investment of “public” resources. This is how the LCP is being used in England’s government-operated National Health Service.
More than a century ago, British novelist Anthony Trollope explored the subject of euthanasia in a prescient cautionary novel entitled The Fixed Period. Set in the island of Britannula near New Zealand, the story focused on a social experiment enacted by the local legislature entitled the “Fixed Period,” in which all citizens would be enrolled in a beautiful and relaxing rest home called the Necropolis at age 67, where they will enjoy one year of pleasant, care-free living before being painlessly put to death. In this way, insisted John Neverbend, President of Britanulla, the island’s society would be spared the suffering, expense, and burden attendant to old age.
As it happens, the first person affected by the Fixed Period ordinance is Gabriel Crasweller, a prominent and wealthy landowner who is also a close friend of President Neverbend. As the time comes to dispatch his friend to his terminal destination, President Neverbend begins to doubt the wisdom of the Fixed Period – but the youth-dominated legislature insists on carrying out its noble experience, notwithstanding the reluctance of its supposed beneficiaries.
Just as Crasweller is about to be carted off to the Necropolis, a British gunship arrives and asserts control over the breakaway British province and puts an end to Neverbend’s reign – and the Fixed Period initiative.
Ironically, the guns of the British government are being used to institute a “Fixed Period”-style system of medical triage, rather than abolish it – and a similar state of affairs may soon prevail here in the United States.
Read more here.