Confused Tories don’t understand what the term ‘health service’ means

Bad for your health: If you don't have time to read the full article, this Martin Rowson cartoon from The Guardian provides the full picture.

Bad for your health: If you don’t have time to read the whole article, this Martin Rowson cartoon from The Guardian provides the full picture.

Yesterday was not a good day to be Jeremy Hunt.

“What day ever is?” I hear you cry. Good point, well made.

Yesterday was worse than usual. Not only did the High Court tell him thathis plan to penalise Lewisham Hospital for the failings of a neighbouring health trust was illegal, but the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that right-to-die campaigners did not have the right to ask doctors to end patients’ lives.

Mr Misprint was found to have been acting outside his powers as Secretary of State for Health, and in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006, when he announced his plan to close or substantially downgrade casualty and maternity services at Lewisham.

Mr Justice Silber said that the decision of the Trust Special Administrator – which was the first made under new, Conservative, health service guidance – was also unlawful.

And he referred to yet another spectacular Parliamentary lie by David Cameron. He’s really racking those up, now, isn’t he? In this one, he told Dame Joan Ruddock, “What the Government and I specifically promised was that there should be no closures or reorganisations unless they had support from the GP commissioners, unless there was proper public and patient engagement and unless there was an evidence base. Let me be absolutely clear: unlike under the last Government when these closures and changes were imposed in a top-down way, if they do not meet those criteria, they will not happen.”

Unfortunately for his reputation, it took a High Court judge to make sure that this guarantee was carried out. Liar Cameron would have pushed the unlawful measure through, even though none of the conditions he described had been met.

Of course the consequence would have been a reduced, substandard hospital service for people living in or near Lewisham – not because the hospital itself was poorly run (it wasn’t) but because the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust has been haemorrhaging more than £1 million every week. The decision was made with an eye on costs, and with no regard for the effect on people’s health or lives.

Meanwhile, over in the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, upheld a ruling that the late Tony Nicklinson had not had the right to ask a doctor to end his life, and neither did fellow right-to-die campaigner Paul Lamb.

The perverse aspect of this is the possibility that they would have got what they wanted – if they had only kept their mouths shut.

Readers may think what follows is in bad taste, or out-of-turn, but it seems that every family in the country has a story in which they suspect doctors of “switching off” a loved one.

From my own family, I can think of two occasions without even trying: One was an uncle with a long-term illness. His wife (my aunt) cared for him but, being a senior citizen herself, she reached a point where she needed to take a break, and booked him into a respite care home. He didn’t survive the experience.

The other was another uncle with a terminal illness who was on painkillers which could kill him if a wrong dosage was applied. We don’t know that this is what led to his death – just as we don’t know what happened in the respite home. But on the face of it, the circumstances are questionable.

All of the above leads us to conclude that yesterday was not a good day to be Jeremy Hunt. You can be sure he was unhappy about it, too.

Picture the scene if you can: The Cabinet room, during a tea break. Various Tories are lounging around, sucking down on some of the plasma they privatised the other week, while Mr Hunt declares: “It isn’t fair! Iain’s policies get to kill hundreds of people every we- sorry, dozens. dozens of people every week – and I can’t even top one or two who want it? What’s the world coming to?”

What indeed. Perhaps Mr Hunt should remember he’s the Secretary of State for Health. It’s in his job title that he should be preserving health, not destroying it.

And money – filthy lucre – should be his last concern!

6 thoughts on “Confused Tories don’t understand what the term ‘health service’ means

  1. guy fawkes

    The court of appeal upheld a ruling that right-to-die campaigners did not have the right to ask doctors to end patients’ lives.
    It has no qualms about asking doctors to terminate pregnancies and kill individuals whose life has not even started, but denies those whose lives have become intolerable to them the right to die, how perverse is that?
    My aunt who had had a severe stroke and was bedridden was denied fluids which helped her exit from this world, yet terminally ill people who are specifically requesting it are denied a pain free, dignified death. We know about how such a ruling could be abused but is it not being abused now anyway but under the cloak of secrecy.

  2. bookmanwales

    Whilst the right to a dignified death is, on the face of it somewhat humane, one has to take the less pleasant aspect of human nature into account.

    Terminally ill or badly disabled people may want to have this option of their own free will but certain vulnerable people may be easily persuaded by either greedy relatives or even the state that death is the “right thing” (given the current climate of hate against disabled people in general).

    Whilst the few may have to live painful lives the many who want to live should be a priority. Those who are determined may eventually find a way but legal euthanasia is the first tricky step to population control.

  3. Christine Cassidy

    Can’t understand why we don’t have the right to die. When we have decided that we endure have through an illness that will inevitably lead to our death we should be allowed to do so with dignity. Why can’t we have a Dignitas Clinic here.

    Compare our compassion to animals, if the pat you have had for a long time is in constant pain, off their food and has no quality of life the vet says the kindest thing would be to put your beloved pet to sleep, most people would do so because that would be the kindest thing to do. I know this as I have had to do it…..wasn’t easy and found it really difficult to say yes BUT I couldn’t let my dog live like that until he passed away naturally because that is so so cruel.

    If terminally ill people are requesting this they have obviously accepted there condition and now want to chose when they die.

    I too have a terminal illness and am so far away from begging to die as my life is going ok BUT I hope that when I decide I do not want to suffer any more:

    1) I will be able to end my life myself

    2) I can afford to fly to Dignitas ( have to get a passport first lol)

    3) Right to die legislation has been lain down in Parliament and I can die with dignity surround by my friends and family.

    1. guy fawkes

      Bookman of wales’ concern about abuse, which I also mentioned is justified to a certain extent, but to want to end a loved ones pain and suffering has to be weighed up against this concern, a truly thought provoking dichotomy which can be settled by the sufferer being the only one with the right to request to make the decision to end their life, not doctors or the family.
      In the case of my aunt, we never told the doctors to deprive my aunt of water, but the drip feed of water was turned off and we requested it be turned back on as she was unconscious and could not speak for herself at the time nor had she signed a living will or anything requesting to die in the event of major illness such as her stroke.
      Personally I would like the choice and freedom to make my own life or death decision in such a life changing event and hope that the law would be changed to facilitate this.

  4. Ian

    The trouble I have with legalising the right to die (although I am not against it principle) is that if you cannot communicate and have no family to relay your wishes government guidelines would be how your interests are interpitrated, and thats why i feel uncomfortable about allowing it. I especially would not like this hash up of a government to pass it, as it would be a disaster open to abuse, (imagine the input IDS would insist on).

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