I feel that the UK is at a crossroads in much the same way that the US was several decades ago. High profile court cases surrounding patient rights at the end of life catalyzed a set of changes, which led to America's current system of aggressive treatments at all costs regardless of futility or clinical common sense.
The big innovation in the 19th and 20th century was the acknowledgement that health is a systemic issue. If people do not seek medical advice for small problems due to economic reasons, these small problems can become big problems and cause further poverty. This realisation led, for example, to the establishment of the NHS in 1948.
Our beloved 14 year old cocker spaniel Sammy who has lived for the past six months with senile dementia, blindness, a lack of bowel control and use of his legs, was put to sleep yesterday. With our dog we were allowed to choose when to end his life so that he could die with dignity and achieve a 'good death'. We were not allowed that option with my father.