Quote of Note: In 2007-08, 16.5% of Deaths in Britain Came After Terminal Sedation

“Rarely has the Atlantic seemed as wide as when America’s raw debate on the future of health care provoked a near unanimous response from Britain’s politicians boasting of the superiority of socialized medicine delivered by the country’s National Health Service. Prime Minister Gordon Brown used Twitter to tell the world that the NHS can mean the difference between life and death. His wife added, ‘we love the NHS.’ Opposition leader David Cameron tweeted back that his plans to outspend Labour showed the Conservatives were more committed to the NHS than Labour.

“This outbreak of NHS jingoism was brought to an abrupt halt by the Patients Association, an independent charity. In a report, the association presented a catalogue of end-of-life cases that demonstrated, in its words, ‘a consistent pattern of shocking standards of care,’ providing details of what it described as ‘appalling treatment,’ which could be found across the NHS. A few days later, a group of senior doctors and health-care experts wrote to a national newspaper expressing their concern about the Liverpool Care Pathway, a palliative program being rolled out across the NHS, involving the withdrawal of fluids and nourishment for patients thought to be dying. Noting that in 2007-08, 16.5% of deaths in the U.K. came after terminal sedation, their letter concluded with the chilling observation that experienced doctors know that sometimes ‘when all but essential drugs are stopped, ‘dying’ patients get better’ if they are allowed to — words that put a different complexion on Gordon Brown’s August tweet.”

-Rupert Darwall, “Life, Death and the NHS,” Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2009

For more on life and death on the NHS, download a free PDF copy of our new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care.


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