January 12, 2013

Not News in U.S.: 60,000 on NHS’s ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ (to Death) in UK Never Told

A search this morning at Google News on “Liverpool Pathway” (not in quotes) returned 69 items (Google’s initial indication was over 800, but it was really only 69). Roughly 60 of them related to the National Health Service’s “palliative care” protocols known as the “Liverpool Care Pathway” employed in the UK’s government-run health care system to place hospital patients on a path to death. The latest news about the pathway has drawn the attention of a few prolife blogs in the U.S., but almost no attention from U.S. establishment press sources.

That’s stunnning, given both the seriousness of the news about the pathway’s real-world effects, and the reactions of those who insist that it’s still a great thing in their brave new healthcare world. A UK Daily mail item on December 30 summarized the extent of the horror in three succinct sentences (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.

Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.

From what I can tell, the term “palliative care,” which supposedly “is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients,” is devolving to really mean “lack of care designed to end a life” in the UK. I don’t know how else to react, given how the term is used by defenders of the indefensible in a UK Independent item on January 8:

Specialists in palliative medicine have hit back at critics of the so-called Liverpool Care Pathway, a checklist devised to help hospital doctors and nurses assist patients to a humane, dignified and pain-free end. They argued that its aim was to enable patients to “live until they die” – freed from the paraphernalia of tubes and machines that can increase distress.

The measure, developed over a decade ago by palliative care specialists in Liverpool, has become embroiled in controversy in recent months, as some doctors, religious leaders and pro-life groups have alleged that patients are being put on the “pathway to death” without their consent or that of their families in response to financial incentives from the NHS. The Daily Mail has run a campaign claiming hospitals are being bribed with millions of pounds to send patients to an early grave.

… An estimated 350,000 patients with chronic illnesses need palliative care each year but fewer than half (170,000) receive it, of whom 130,000 are placed on the pathway.

The audit last year by the Royal College of Physicians and Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool of 178 hospitals found 44 per cent of patients who were conscious and a third of families were not consulted before the decision was taken.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, condemned the failure to consult as “utterly unacceptable.” But he defended the Liverpool Care Pathway as a “fantastic step forward”, adding that “one or two mistakes” should not be allowed to discredit it …

It’s a long way from “one or two” to 60,000, Mr. Hunt.

In essence, the pathway represents the real life application of the “death panels” against which former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin warned in 2009 as the threat that Democrats in Washington would pass its own version of state-controlled health care now known as ObamaCare materialized. As Wesley Smith at National Review noted just before Christmas, this is where nationalized health takes a country, regardless of whether its citizens want it to go there:

Doctors Lose Humanity Serving Govt. Masters

The implosion of UK healthcare quality is a warning for the U.S.

… Loss of humanity is a predictable consequence of centralized control. As the quality of healthcare worsens, the technocracy kicks into high gear, issuing more regulations, guidelines, and treatment (or rationing) checklists–further devolving medicine into a deprofessionalized, connect-the-dots craft. And that can be deadly.

The same thing will happen in the U.S. once Obamacare’s cost/benefit and best care standards bureaucracies are up and running.

“Zeke the Bleak” Emanuel and his fellow grim reapers stand at the ready to implement their equivalent model known — which gives “gives preference (for medical treatment) to people 13 to 40 years old — as long as they are reasonably healthy” — right here in the U.S.

Segments of the U.S. press surely are aware of what is happening in the UK. One can only conclude that the are doing all they can to ensure that the warning signals from Britain’s NHS are never seen or heard in the USA.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Not to put too fine a point on it–and many people in many circumstances–welcome “hospice” here. But once you commit to it (they keep saying it’s “free”), you are giving permission to withhold food and water in some circumstances. They will say the person cannot eat or drink–well, that’s true–they are gorked on regular morphine injections even if they don’t have pain. Soooo….you decide. I think hospice will be very popular here in a few yrs.

    Comment by Star — January 12, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  2. [...] A third of families are also not told when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones. BizzyBlog reported: The latest news about the pathway has drawn the attention of a few prolife blogs in the [...]

    Pingback by In Great Britain – 57,000 Patients a Year Die Without Being Told Life-Saving Treatments Have Been Stopped | 168ops.org — January 13, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

  3. [...] A third of families are also not told when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones. BizzyBlog reported: The latest news about the pathway has drawn the attention of a few prolife blogs in the [...]

    Pingback by In Great Britain – 57,000 Patients a Year Die Without Being Told Life-Saving Treatments Have Been Stopped | Undivided US — January 13, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

  4. Doctors will actually serve government actuaries.

    Case in point: For ~$100 I could have a set of ultrasound tests to assess the health of some key arteries. For example, how this was the plaque in my carotid? I was happy to pay the money to find out that mine was totally clear. It was kind of a reverse lottery that I was glad to lose.

    I mentioned this to a friend who happened to be an expert on evidence-based medicine. He told me that it was less expensive to treat the few people who survive an occluded carotid than to give the test to every older patient.

    This is the difference between when people can buy the health care services they want to with their own money and when they allow themselves to become dependent upon government to provide health care for them.

    Comment by theBuckWheat — January 13, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

  5. The people who crafted Obamacare have known all along that euthanasia was the goal for the aged, as Obama himself stated that we were needlessly spending 80% of our healthcare costs on people who are already dying. This suggests that the easiest way to cut costs for a national healthcare system is to limit treatment for those deemed to be dying.

    Pulling food and water from aged patients just to get them dead faster is euthanasia, and someone has to decide when that time will come for each of us. Whether this results from a set of bureaucratic rules or from the consensus of a committee (whether or not doctors or accountants make up that committee), the governing instrument is a “death panel.” Democrats say, “Oh, no, it’s not a ‘death panel,’ silly, it’s an end of life panel,” and we’re supposed to say, “Oh, okay then, as long as it’s not a ‘death panel.’”

    By forcing Christian healthcare providers to perform abortions, Obama is doing nothing more than purging the healthcare community of persons of conscience. If these doctors and nurses will not take the lives of innocents in the womb, they will likely also not go along with euthanasia for the aged. It will be easier to implement “end of life” protocols with people who have no conscience.

    My sister-in-law, a registered nurse, was asked by an attending physician, “Are you okay with morphine?” Thinking he meant, “Do you know how to administer morphine?” she said, “Yes.” The doctor then ordered a megadose of morphine for his patient, and she said, “This is too much. It will stop his respiration.” The doctor said, “That’s the idea. I thought you said you were ‘okay with morphine.’” Handing the doctor the bottle of morphine, she said, “If you want to kill your patient, doctor, you’ll have to do it yourself.” My sister-in-law is the sort that Obamacare will not long tolerate. Eventually, she will be told, “Do it, or you’re fired.”

    When all those who revere life are purged from the medical community, what sort of compassion will remain? We too often hear of abuse of seniors in elder-care units at the hands of cruel, incompassionate attendants. Growing old was never for the feint-hearted, but now it gets worse.

    Comment by Wumingren — January 14, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  6. [...] up in arms. This is, by the way, a very important topic for Americans to educate themselves about. As BizzyBlog points out, the debate over the terrifying practices of government-run health care in Europe is barely even [...]

    Pingback by Britain’s Medical Death Row « The Liberty Bullhorn — January 16, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

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