The Liverpool Care Pathway, a protocol normally used for the "dying patient", came under extensive scrutiny by the media recently. The Daily Mail broke the story on the 21 June 2012. The claims made included the misuse of the pathway during euthanasia of the elderly. Also, a figure of 29% of patients who die in the NHS are said to be on this pathway [ Total yearly deaths in NHS Care is quoted at 450,000 per year]
This was followed by yet another controversial letter [Deadly One Way Street] written to the Telegraph UK by a number of leading doctors. They warn that "Hospitals may be depriving elderly patients of food and drink to hasten their deaths as part of cost-cutting measures to free up bed space"
Of course, the misuse of the Liverpool Care Pathway is just a name given to the kind of practise that has been in the ongoing in the National Health Service for years. It is common knowledge that the NHS is institutionally discriminatory and this can in some cases lead to premature death. Further research showed that "Elderly patients are being condemned to an early death by hospitals making secret use of "do not resuscitate" orders, an investigation has found" [ See Telegraph]
Of course, it is always important to remember that the above concerns were all raised in the media and with various authorities in the year 2000 - 12 years ago. I was the first whistleblower to raise the alarm on identical concerns. An article with a similar name was written by two Sunday Times journalists - it was called "Elderly Helped to Die" dated 2nd April 2000 featured on the front page of the paper, 12 years ago. Instead of investigating the concerns, changing policy for the elderly and the disabled, the authorities turned their gaze onto me. I was subjected to a decade of revolving door investigations by the General Medical Council UK [GMC] . These were all eventually dropped and I was cleared. Multiple local reports were concealed from me for many years. Having fought for and eventually achieved partial disclosure, I discovered that the reports vindicated me. The General Medical Council [GMC] issued an apology for the distress caused to me. Of course, my question to them is this - how many people died due to their own failure to act?
Having dismissed all my concerns through a sham peer review in 2000, research done by Brunel University in 2004 demonstrated that doctors were involved in as many as eight euthanasia deaths per day. The Telegraph wrote
"A report by Clive Seale, professor of sociology at Brunel University, said 1,930 deaths were as a result of a doctor ending a patient's life without the patient's consent, a practice known as "non-voluntary euthanasia" or "mercy killing". The paper continued to say "A third of the 584,791 people who died in 2004 - 192,000 patients - had their deaths "accelerated" by doctors using pain relief.
During that period, I wrote a piece in the Sunday Mercury called Doctors Playing God With Lives detailing my experiences.
In 2012, the Department of Health told the public
" The Liverpool Care Pathway is not euthanasia and we do not recognise these figures "
when faced with "Almost a third of patients - 130,000 - who die in hospital or under NHS care a year are on the LCP" [ Telegraph].
Of course, the Department of Health [DOH} was not only aware of my concerns in the year 2000 but also Clive Seale's research in 2004 reported by the media in 2006 outlining the statistics. I am of course surprised that the Department of Health has not instigated an independent inquiry into the misuse of the Liverpool Care Pathway to determine the number of patients affected.
The DOH's colleagues at the GMC have behaved in much the same way in other cases. To add salt to the wounds of those grieving, the GMC was last seen failing to strike off Dr Jane Barton leading us to question what the GMC's position really is on these matters.
"At one stage police examined 92 deaths, although no criminal charges were brought, and an inquest last year into ten of the 12 deaths concluded that five pensioners died after being given excessive doses of morphine. But Dr Barton remained free to practise, subject to restrictions on prescribing certain drugs, and has been working at the Forton Medical Centre in Gosport".
The leading authorities - the GMC and the DOH have been supine and in denial of the evidence presented to them. Both authorities have failed to act as a catalyst to change policy. This inaction can be seen to have taken place over 12 years. While they have spent extensive resources developing elaborate methods to discredit the whistleblower, this conduct of theirs has cost the lives of many vulnerable patients. Despite this disaster, there will be no accountability.
Dr Jane Barton has a extensive NHS pension. I was rewarded with no less than 50 lever arch files; having proven and vindicated myself over 12 years - there has been no justice for the patients who died. I am of course the first whistleblower who raised serious concerns with the relevant authorities as a junior doctor. Had the authorities acted on my concerns 12 years ago, many lives could have been saved. .
Finally, it is important to remember this quote by Martin Luther King
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter
Written in memory of those whose lives have been needlessly lost due to the catastrophic failure of NHS policy.
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