That Marvelous, Glorious, Utterly Adorable National Health Service

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 3, 2009

Why does it have fans?

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”

Once again: I know that there is nothing like the NHS being planned for implementation in the United States in any of the legislative versions of health care reform that are circulating in Congress. But this entire mini-series here at A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days began because as a side issue, a debate was raging over whether the NHS is a good and desirable thing. We now see that contrary to the statements made by Krugman and others, it most clearly is not.

UPDATE: Of course, I should have seen the Monty Python reference earlier.

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    That Marvelous, Glorious, Utterly Adorable National Health Service

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