Sarah Palin once warned of death panels resulted from socialized medicine. She was mocked for the label, but the United Kingdom’s NHS hospitals are seemingly striving to prove that Palin was correct. The Liverpool Care Pathway has become notorious for its supposed end-of-life treatment. Over time, it has come to light that the so-called end-of-life “care” really consists of slowly starving and dehydrating patients to death, even children, who are put on the pathway not for being terminally ill, but simply for being disabled.
Now, more shocking news has come to the surface. It turns out that half of all patients placed on the pathway are not informed. Almost 60,000 patients are sentenced to death on the pathway, usually to end up sedated, starved, and dehydrated until they die, and are not asked for their consent first. Thousands of these patients are not even given regular medication to ease their slow, agonizing deaths.
The new disclosures demonstrate just how routinely hospitals are placing patients on the pathway without informing them that steps which could hasten their death have been taken. The national audit found:
• In 44 per cent of cases when conscious patients were placed on the pathway, there was no record that the decision had been discussed with them.
• For 22 per cent of patients on the pathway, there was no evidence that comfort and safety had been maintained while medication was administered.
• One in three families of the dying never received a leaflet they should have been given to explain the process.
And while health secretary Jeremy Hunt decried these abuses as unacceptable, he still maintains that the Liverpool Care Pathway is “a fantastic step forward.”
Mr Hunt told LBC radio: “It’s a fantastic step forward, the Liverpool care pathway, and we need to be unabashed about that.
“It’s basically designed to bring hospice-style care to terminally-ill people in hospitals. Inevitably people do die in hospital but they weren’t getting the quality of care in those final few hours.”
Mr Hunt said many patients did not want to die “with lots of tubes going in and out of their body” but would prefer their final moments with their families to be “dignified”.
“The Liverpool care pathway was developed with Marie Curie, with Macmillan, with Age UK and a number of other charities, to try and bring that dignity to people in their last moments,” he said.
To claim that slowly starving people to death, without even obtaining their consent or that of their family, is somehow dignified or merciful is horrific. This is legalized murder, yet Mr. Hunt defends the program as “a fantastic step forward.” How unacceptable can these deaths truly be to him if he can still look at this and praise it as he does?
This also shows what happens when we, as a society, devalue life. Protecting life goes so much farther than just protecting the unborn. The lives of the elderly, of people with disabilities, have proven to be disposable, just like the lives of our unborn children. All life is valuable, and when we stop seeing that, horrors such as these are the result.