Saturday, 26 March 2011

Euthanasia is being practised widely in the NHS, says doctors' leader

Dr Clare Walker, the president of the Catholic Medical Association, was quoted yesterday saying that euthanasia is being practised widely in the NHS (read the full report in Independent Catholic News).

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, gave his reaction yesterday to Dr Walker's statement:
"We must be grateful to Dr Walker for speaking out about the growing anti-life ethos in British medicine. The practice of euthanasia by neglect is insidious and will lead to more and more pressure for active euthanasia - this is the aim of the pro-euthanasia lobby.

"Intentional killing by neglect has become more entrenched in England and Wales since the passing of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This was designed to permit doctors to end the lives of certain seriously ill or disabled people by withholding treatment and care - including even food and fluids in some cases. Without water, people die. Although active euthanasia (such as giving patients a lethal injection) remains rare in our experience, passive euthanasia is a major problem.

"Dr Walker rightly highlights the dangers of the Liverpool Care Pathway. The LCP can mean that tick-box medicine replaces proper care tailored to the person. In some places it is used inappropriately - the LCP implies high doses of morphine may be used which are not necessary for all patients, and which can hasten death. In some places it has become feared as a way of getting rid of those who aren't 'dying quickly enough'.

"The importance of having a sound ethical foundation when caring for patients who may be dying, or nearing death, is increasingly evident. It is not only experts, like doctors, pro-life campaigners and chaplains who see the growing disregard and lack of proper care for those who are nearing death. Relatives of disabled or elderly people are often distressed by the way their loved ones are treated in hospitals and care homes. This can range from not getting necessary help with feeding and toileting to withdrawal of vital care, like simple intravenous fluids."
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