Death Panels? We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Death Panels!

Reader Phil B. emails from New Zealand another appalling story, this time on the subject of Britain’s National Health Service, the model many on the Left here want us to emulate:

Hospitals are paid millions to hit targets for the number of patients who die on the Liverpool Care Pathway, the Mail can reveal.

What is the “Liverpool Care Pathway”? Well, Wikipedia defines it as:

The Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP) is a UK care pathway covering palliative care options for patients in the final days or hours of life. It helps doctors and nurses provide quality end-of-life care.

That’s what it’s supposed to be, but the reality is, unsurprisingly, somewhat different. From the first link:

The incentives have been paid to hospitals that ensure a set percentage of patients who die on their wards have been put on the controversial regime.

In some cases, hospitals have been set targets that between a third and two thirds of all the deaths should be on the LCP, which critics say is a way of hastening the deaths of terminally ill patients.

At least £30million in extra money from taxpayers is estimated to have been handed to hospitals over the past three years to achieve these goals.

Critics of the method warned last night that financial incentives for hospitals could influence the work of doctors.

The LCP involves withdrawal of life-saving treatment. Patients are sedated and most are denied nutrition and fluids by tube. On average a patient put on the Pathway dies within 29 hours.

One of the leading critics, hospital consultant Professor Patrick Pullicino, said: ‘Given the fact that the diagnosis of impending death is such a subjective one, putting a financial incentive into the mix is really not a good idea and it could sway the decision-making process.’

Gee, ya THINK?

Here’s a recent example of the LCP in action:

An 85-year-old woman died on her own after relatives were not told by doctors that she had been put on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway.

Olive Goom was alone when she died at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after medics did not consult with her family, a newspaper reported.

Hours before, relatives had been reassured by staff on the phone that there was no urgent need to visit, even though doctors had already removed tubes providing food and fluid.

They only found out she had died when her niece went to visit her and found she was already being prepared for the mortuary, and last night said they would never stop feeling guilty that no one was there in her final hours.

An exception? No.

Their experience is shared by a number of families who have said relatives were put on the Liverpool Care Pathway – the system designed to ease the suffering of patients in their final hours – without any consultation.

And now we know why. Follow the money. The hospitals are paid to do so.

Government-run single-payer health care! Hey, let’s do it here!  It’ll work if the right people are in charge!

And Monty Python thought they were making satire:


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