The NHS may be letting Elderly Patients Die to Help Cut Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

There are few things more difficult than watching a loved one die a slow death.  Nothing prepares you for this.  Even if you work in the health care industry (see My diary of mum’s awful death on the Liverpool Care Pathway: Nurse’s heart-rending account of how doctors decided  to put her mother on ‘pathway to death’ by Tom Rawstorne posted 10/19/2012 on the Daily Mail).

As a nurse and health visitor with 25 years’ experience, Carole Jones thought she knew the workings of the NHS inside out.

But when her 85-year-old mother Maureen was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge last year having suffered a stroke, she was totally unprepared for what followed.

Her mother’s chances of recovery having been written off by medics, a decision was taken — without Carole’s knowledge — to place Maureen on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

This is a plan ostensibly designed to ease the suffering of the dying, which can involve the heavy sedation of a patient and the removal of tubes providing food and fluid.

Over the past week, families have contacted the Daily Mail saying they believe their loved ones were wrongly put on the LCP by hospitals when they were not in fact close to death, fuelling the suspicion that it is used to hasten deaths to save the NHS money and free up beds.

In June this year, Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals, and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at Kent University, told a conference the LCP had become an ‘assisted death pathway’.

‘Very likely, many elderly patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP,’ he said.

It is so difficult when the roles reverse between parent and child.  When a parent consults with a doctor about his or her child you usually don’t have to worry whether the doctor is doing what’s best for the child.  When it is a daughter or son of a parent discussing an elderly parent’s treatment with a doctor it’s a different story.  Especially if that parent is suffering from dementia.  And the National Health Service is dealing with cost pressures from an aging population.

More people are leaving the workforce than entering it in the UK (as well as the US).  Which means two things.  Tax revenue is falling because of fewer workers (which means fewer taxpayers).  While at the same time a larger number of retirees are consuming a large share of health care services.  So that’s less money coming into the health service.  While the health service is spending more money on providing health care services.  Which is a problem.  If you spend more than you receive you will run deficits.  And if you can’t increase tax rates anymore that leaves only one other option.  Cost cutting.

Is this the reason why they are placing elderly patients in the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP)?  To help cut costs by having them die more efficiently?  Whether they are or not it would help cut costs.  Probably the largest cost savings they can make.  By removing the largest consumers of health care resources from the health care system.  A death panel, if you will.  Where some government bureaucrat makes a cold and calculated decision to let a person die because it’s the cost efficient thing to do.

It’s something to think about as they fully implement Obamacare.  For if the NHS is doing this it would follow that Obamacare will, too.  For both nations have aging populations.  Only the US has about five times the population of the UK so the US will probably have five times the cost pressures.  And will likely place five times the patients into the US equivalency of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

This is the bleak future of Obamacare.  Real death panels.  Despite what the proponents of Obamacare say.

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