BY Ian Dunn | March 25 | comments icon 5 COMMENTS     print icon print


Questions over claim of widespread euthanasia by default

The president of the Catholic Medical Association has said she believes that euthanasia is being widely practiced in the NHS. However Gordon Macdonald (above) of the Care Not Killing Alliance has said while his group share Dr Clare Walker’s concerns they do not believe euthanasia is widespread at the present time.

Dr Walker said she is regularly contacted by distressed healthcare professionals and managers, who describe their experience of witnessing repeated instances of unofficial, active euthanasia in their local areas.

“The standards of medical ethics and of interpretation of existing legislation appear to vary greatly around the country and from one organisation to the next, even in the same local area,” Dr Walker said.

She also believes the misuse of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), designed to improve palliative care for patients in the last stages of life, is leading to euthanasia.

“There is no reason to be suspicious when the LCP is being used in appropriate circumstances to a higher standard of care,” Dr Walker said  “If it is used out of context, then it could be used to the detriment of patients, for example a patient comes into a resuscitation bay and it is not always clear if a condition is acute and can be treated.”

Dr Walker puts many of the problems at the door of a lack of ethics in the application of what at face value is a good system for the terminally ill. “The problems come when an idol is made of the protocols. It is the same story with anything if you make an idol of it you lose common sense and critical faculties,” she said. “Sometimes, in addition to what is required by a protocol, which tends to assess for a single condition, you have to follow an instinct that there is something else wrong with a patient and there is nothing wrong with that. This is the art as well as the science of clinical practice.”

However Mr Macdonald of the Care not Killing Alliance, said his organisation did not see evidence of widespread euthanasia.

“We would not say it’s widely practised,” he said. “The pro-euthanasia lobby has claimed it is as an argument for legalising it but the palliative care doctors we have spoken to have told us that’s not the case. For example though there are cases of the LCP being abused if it’s implemented properly in the last hours of life that’s not euthanasia.”

Mr Macdonald went on to say they still concerned about the issues Dr Walters raised.

“Of course we share concerns over abuses,” he said. “Anecdotally we hear stories of certain care homes with questionable practices but generally we would not accept it’s widespread.”

Comments - 5 Responses

  1. Sorry State of Affairs says:

    Death plans such as The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) are a danger for anyone showing any symptoms of old age, if you are deemed as dying, you can be “helped on your way”, but you may not be dying, my Nan certainly wasn’t. The LCP (and other current End of Life care policies) is flawed and dangerous and was never intended to be a diagnostic tool to determine whether someone is terminally ill; simply a pathway to follow AFTER diagnosis (i.e in advanced terminal cancer cases). Old Age is NOT a terminal illness, but in applying the LCP it is being treated as one, and families are being left devastated as a result of this.

  2. ebpearson says:

    Gordon mac Donald is in denial! My sister’s treatment was discontinued she was not terminally ill although she probably would not have lasted for longer than a few months after a stroke. There was nothing I could do although I phoned, emailed 12 hours a day to try and get help unsuccessfully to get her good treatment rather than the LCP being applied But I was outwitted!!I can,t tell you how sad I am – I feel I let her down. The Hospital knew what they were doing and it was not in her best interest!!

  3. john meehan says:

    david cameron, their are that many complaints, about this liverpool care pathway please put a stop to this back door killing once and for all.

  4. john meehan says:

    if someone is at deaths door and in intolerable pain yes put them to sleep, if they wish but not patients who are not like my wife, she was murdered by the n h s, by dehydration, and syringe driven poison, for what to save them money. father forgive them for they know not what they do, catholic scripture.

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