Tag Archives: Switzerland

‘It is cheaper to help people die rather than support them to live’

Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his "change of heart".

Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his “change of heart”.

A “change of heart” by a former Archbishop of Canterbury over ‘assisted dying’ has dismayed at least one campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities.

Mo Stewart has been researching and reporting what she describes as the “atrocities” against the chronically sick and disabled in the UK for the last four years. She said Lord Carey’s decision to support legislation that would make it legal for people in England and Wales to receive help to end their lives would “play right into the hands of this very, very dangerous government”.

Justifying his change of position, Lord Carey said: “Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.

“The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.”

The Assisted Dying Bill, tabled by Labour’s Lord Falconer, would apply to people with less than six months to live. Two doctors would have to independently confirm the patient was terminally ill and had reached their own, informed decision to die.

But Mo Stewart warned that the proposed legislation, to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, would be subject to ‘function creep’, with unscrupulous authorities taking advantage of people with depression in order to relieve themselves of the financial burden of paying for their care.

“If this law is granted, what will be deemed a possibility for the few will, very quickly I fear, become the expected for the many,” she wrote in a letter to Lord Carey which she has kindly provided to Vox Political.

“It’s cheaper to help people to die rather than support them to live.

“There is a catalogue of evidence demonstrating that, in those countries where assisted dying is permitted, very often those taking their own lives are suffering from a clinical depression and leave our world to resist the perception that they are a burden to loved ones.

“I am stunned that you would use your voice to try to permit this to happen in the UK.”

She pointed out that medicine is an inexact science and policy changes such as this could have an enormous detrimental impact: “My own webmaster, who is now desperately ill with possibly only weeks to live, was advised he had less than six months to live over four years ago.

“Until very recently, he still enjoyed a high quality of life with his wife, family and friends; a life that could have been removed four years ago” had the Assisted Dying Bill been law at that time.

“What this debate is demonstrating is the failure of guaranteed high quality palliative care in the UK, that makes those with a life-limiting diagnosis feel that self termination is a reasonable solution,” she warned.

“If palliative care was at the peak of quality and access then there would be no need to ever consider such a Bill for this country, as those who wish to access self termination are usually living in fear of the possible physical suffering they may need to endure. This is a highway to clinical depression when quality of life is deemed to have disappeared with diagnosis.”

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has described the Bill as “mistaken and dangerous” and Mo said she believed he had explained the dangers well.

He said: “This is not scaremongering. I know of health professionals who are already concerned by the ways in which their clients have suggestions ‘to go to Switzerland’ whispered in their ears by relatives weary of caring for them and exasperated by seeing their inheritances dwindle through care costs.

“I have received letters from both disabled individuals and their carers, deeply concerned by the pressure that Lord Falconer’s bill could put them under if it became law.”

Mo Stewart’s letter concludes: “In the real world, this Bill – if passed – would, I have no doubt, lead to abuses where some were actively persuaded to self terminate for the convenience, and possibly the inheritance, of others.

“It’s really not a very long way away from an assisted dying bill to an assisted suicide bill.”

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Race. With attitudes like this, how can we ever win?

Good humour and a twinkle in the eye: But what did Mishal Husain really think about the stories of racial and religious tension in Friday's BBC bulletin?

Good humour and a twinkle in the eye: But what did Mishal Husain really think about the stories of racial and religious tension in Friday’s BBC bulletin?

This country becomes more contradictory every day – or at least, that’s how it may have seemed to many people watching the BBC’s six o’clock news bulletin on Friday.

It led with the announcement that the Advertising Standards Authority would be investigating the scheme in which vans sponsored by the taxpayer (via the Home Office) have been driving through London, allegedly stirring up racial tensions by telling illegal immigrants to “go home”. Elsewhere, the vans have been criticised because they have encouraged people to report fellow British citizens as illegal aliens, and immigration officers carrying out spot-checks have also targeted people who were born in this country because they “didn’t sound British”.

Another item was about two British women who suffered traumatic injuries in an acid attack in Zanzibar, where they were working for a charity. The motive was not known but the report concentrated on tensions between Islam, the island’s main religion, and others, remarking on signs asking foreigners to respect the local culture and dress appropriately – covering up, rather than wearing skimpy outfits that would upset local people. It went on to say that the attack victims were, in fact, dressed appropriately at the time.

A third item put a spotlight on Switzerland, where race relations are deteriorating rapidly. It seems the authorities have been passing racial apartheid laws as ways of controlling immigration – and it was easy to imagine why this would be permitted after watching the report on the trouble Oprah Winfrey, one of the richest citizens of the United States of America, had buying a handbag there.

Oprah, in Switzerland to celebrate Tina Turner’s wedding, was continually told by a shop assistant that the item was “too expensive” for her. The knee-jerk conclusion for an onlooker is that the assistant was making a prejudiced judgement based on the fact that Ms Winfrey is not white.

So we were presented with three stories about racial tensions. In the UK, the issue was augmented with unwarranted accusations against people of foreign descent who were, in fact, born here. In Zanzibar the extra factor was the possibility that religious intolerance between Islam and others was behind the attack. And in Switzerland there was the out-and-out racism in the inference that a black woman could not possibly afford an expensive handbag.

These stories were indictments in their own right – made even more uncomfortable viewing by the fact that the news anchor for that bulletin was Mishal Husain who, although born in Northampton, has parents from Pakistan and is a Muslim. We can also expect her to be reasonably well-off, considering she has a high-profile job in television.

Vox Political has huge respect for Ms Husain. Her high-profile appointment as a presenter of Radio 4’s Today Programme is well-deserved and our only regret is that this will take her off our TV screens. She fronted these stories with good humour and a twinkle in her eye – which seems amazing restraint, considering the way they each highlight circumstances that could be applied to her.

There is no way of knowing what she thought of the developments she was chronicling and it would be inappropriate to ask. Having said that, did nobody else wonder what was going through Ms Husain’s mind when she told us the ASA said it had received many messages of support for the so-called “racist vans”?

There is no out-and-out party political message to this article; racism and religious intolerance can spring up among people on all parts of the political spectrum – and is an indictment against those who practise it, wherever it does.

Because it is something that may affect all of us, it is something that we can all fight. In the 21st century the thought that a person may be victimised because their skin is a different colour, or because they have different philosophical beliefs, makes a mockery of our claim to be civilised.

Don’t put up with it. Don’t sit in silence while others are attacked. Complain. Campaign. Turn back this ugly tide.

Otherwise, one day, you might wake up to find that it’s your turn to be the victim.

Conservatives want to stop you seeing your doctor

doctorlimit

We always knew that the Tories don’t give a damn about the fundamental principles of our National Health Service – for example, the one that says access to healthcare should be based on clinical need.

The papers today are reporting on a Conservative Party document which proposes a cap on the number of GP consultations you will be allowed to have every year.

The attitude seems to be that allowing people to see their doctor as many times as are needed is a luxury that the UK cannot afford. From this, we can conclude that money is more important than health to them.

This is contradictory, though – didn’t the Conservatives push through an unnecessary top-down reorganisation of the health service in England at a cost of £3 billion? And aren’t they busily opening up opportunities for their chums in private health companies to make a profit out of the NHS, meaning billions more will be siphoned off into their bank accounts as profit, rather than being used to benefit patients?

The paper asks readers to respond with their opinions on what a GP’s “core” or “essential” services should be, and asks if they should be better-defined so that patients know what they can expect. Significantly, it provides ‘case studies’ from Switzerland and the Netherlands, concentrating on health insurance schemes in use within those countries.

This is the direction of travel, then: We can see that the Tories definitely intend to push us all into buying health insurance schemes, rather than enjoying the current service which is free at the point of use.

Now join the dots:

Health insurance means we would only get what we pay for. If this consultation provides the blueprint, then the rest of the country would get a basic package that is defined by only a few Tory adherents and optimised to make the most profit for the companies running the schemes.

There is already an insurance company working with the UK government – Unum, the company with a criminal record in its home country, the USA, for selling schemes designed to make it close to impossible for anyone to receive a payout.

Do any of you seriously believe, if these plans go through, that you would receive any healthcare worth having?

I don’t.

I read about this on the day I also read about double-heart and lung transplant patient Linda Wootton, who died just nine days after being told her entitlement for Employment and Support Allowance had been stopped because she was fit for work (she was, in fact, dying on a hospital bed at the time).

My first impression was, therefore, that this was an attempt by the Conservatives to stop people from compiling the medical evidence needed to contest ESA entitlement decisions.

But then I remembered: The work capability assessment is not a medical test and does not rely on medical evidence from anyone who is qualified to have an opinion about it. So it can’t be that.

Right?

If this gets passed into law, you should expect your health, and that of everyone you know, to worsen exponentially as time goes by. It’s as the U2 lyric from the 1980s put it: “The rich stay healthy while the sick stay poor”. There will be many, many deaths due to preventable causes.

The New World Order conspiracy theorists are probably salivating at the thought of this – they’ll believe it proves what they’ve been saying all along, that there is a cadre of ‘elite’ manipulators who intend to thin out the world population and this is part of that agenda.

There is only one thing to do: Protest. The ‘discussion brief’ entitled ‘Local Health’ was buried on the Conservative Policy Forum website when the papers reported on it, but now it has magically found its way to the top of the homepage. So why not visit www.conservativepolicyforum.com, read the document for yourself and make your opinions known in no uncertain terms:

Hands off our NHS!

Ask yourself how many of the people who wrote the paper actually use the NHS. If they don’t play the game, why are they so determined to make up the rules?