"Dear Sir,Tragically, the British government, parliament, courts and medical establishment have all undermined protection for the sick, elderly and disabled through:
Tim Montgomerie (ST 6th Feb) says that Andrew Lansley’s reform of the NHS is based on the principle of 'no decision about me without me'. I think there are significant drawbacks to making this a predominant principle of medicine. Doctors are trained and experienced professionals, who should always operate to high ethical standards. (It‘s unfortunate that most of them no longer swear an equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath.) The passing of the Mental Capacity Act has introduced the primacy of the wishes of the patient as the highest consideration for treatment, irrespective of the ethical principles of those who have to carry them out. The 'best interests of the patient' which used to be the predominant principle of all medicine and based on the interpretation of the professional doctor, are now simply and simplistically defined as the wishes of patient, carried out if necessary through the instructions of a third party on his behalf. Such an arrangement can override the ethics of those on whom we rely to be ethical professionals; we don’t want them to be forced to carry out euthanasia because the patient is suicidal, for example, or made his decision on refusal of treatment when medicine was less able to cope with his condition. Medical professionals are not simply private operatives to do as they are told.
From professionals we expect a high degree of training, experience and judgement; is it sensible to encourage patients to override that judgement? I was asked by a doctor what I wanted, from a choice of two options; I naturally chose home treatment as the more convenient one for me. The result was that four days later I was taken to hospital as an emergency. The next time I was asked to choose I said 'you’re the doctor; you tell me what I should do.' I wish I’d done that in the first case. It took me four days on a drip and two weeks in bed to recover from that mischoice of mine.
Michael Wendell Thomas"
- the 1992 Bland judgment
- professional guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the General Medical Council (GMC)
- the Mental Capacity Act 2005
- the Liverpool Care Pathway
- the Director of Public Prosecutions' guidelines on assisted suicide
In the light of this serious threat to our lives, visitors to this blog should consider joining Patients First Network (PFN). PFN helps you to let doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers know how you expect to be treated in hospital if you are mentally incapacitated. PFN fights against euthanasia.
If you join the Network, we give you a card and a medallion which alert medical staff, along with your family and carers, that you wish to receive appropriate medical treatment and care. Nothing should be done deliberately to end your life, nor should your health care team withdraw treatment with the deliberate intention of causing your death. You can also read and use PFN's Statement of Medical Care Principles.
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