Thursday, 3 July 2008

The NHS: Reducing Healthcare Costs, One Pensioner At A Time….

Obviously, poor care, waiting lists and MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections aren’t reducing the burden on the NHS quick enough, so they are skipping straight to the direct route:
A woman has claimed an NHS hospital "starved" her elderly mother rather than continue her care.

Ellen Westwood, 88, was in Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital for two months being treated for dementia and C.difficile, which she had previously contracted. Her daughter Kathleen Westwood said the hospital decided in February it was in her "best interests" to halt fluids and nutrition - a move the family opposed.
Ms Westwood had to fight the hospital to get her mother treated after the hospital staff made the decision to starve her to death:
” Ms Westwood said she and her father were called into a room at Selly Oak Hospital on 8 February and told doctors had decided to withdraw all fluids, food and hydration.

They said they had begun giving Mrs Westwood morphine "because she is dying".

She said: "Because of this capacity ruling, if you deem somebody to have lost capacity, then the doctors can act in the best interests.

"Well in their view the best interests was for my mother to die - and clearly by Monday she would have been dead.

"We said we don't want this to happen and they said 'it's happening, sorry'.

"I had to fight very, very hard to get it stopped."

The hospital agreed to continue treating Mrs Westwood after the family gained a second opinion from another doctor.
Happily, Mrs Westwood survived but the hospital is unrepentant:
The University Hospital Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust said it could not respond in detail as this would compromise patient confidentiality.

A spokeswoman said: "Mrs Westwood's relatives have raised a number of concerns.

"We have met with the family and are investigating these issues via our normal internal channels.

"UHB adheres to the national guidelines relating to the care of the elderly and we consider that we provide the best care possible to all our patients."
Remember back in 1999, when a consultant said there was an unofficial policy of involuntary euthanasia, and then Health Secretary Alan Milburn decided such claims were ‘ludicrous’?

Looks like they sidestepped that one by making it part of the ‘national guidelines’…

3 comments:

David Duff said...

Normally I think it is rather bad manners to publicise one's own blog on another site but as your subject is hospitals may I ask you and your readers to have a quick read of this which concerns a unique and very special hospital:

http://duffandnonsense.typepad.com/duff_nonsense/2008/07/stunned-moved-and-at-a-loss-for-words.html

JuliaM said...

Oh, yes, I saw that this morning!

I'd heard of them (vaguely) but you're right, they don't get as big a press as they deserve.

I'd like to think that's because they spend their money wisely and not on useless and annoying advertising campaigns... Good on Saatchi for acting pro bono!

I'll certainly send a donation winging their way, and let's hope they can keep up the good work.

David Duff said...

Thanks, Julia, and another of the things in their favour is that there is no governmental middle-man involved. As the speaker pointed out yesterday, sending medical equipment to these countries is a waste of time and money - it either breaks down after a few months and there is no-one qualified to repair it, or, it is nicked - and that's why teh idea of the visiting ship is so excellent.