What price a human life? And how can anyone – particularly someone in power at the NHS – decide that one individual’s life isn’t as valuable as the next person’s?
When it comes to the people we serve we’d be horrified to discover them being treated differently. We also know that most decent people would feel the same.
So we were appalled to read about Andrew Waters who was placed under a 'do not resuscitate' (DNR) order because he had Downs. The hospital trust caring for Andrew, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust, listed his learning difficulties as one of the reasons for the DNR.
To make matters worse for Andrew’s family they were not consulted or told of the decision but found out retrospectively after he was discharged from hospital, we really can’t imagine how that must have felt.
The NHS Trust has admitted breaching his human rights but it questions their integrity and that of the management that it was allowed to happen in the first place.
Mr. Waters died in May, aged 53, his family didn’t seek compensation over his death. A dancing, swimming and drama devotee, Andrew, like many of the people we serve, was a busy man who led a full life.
But, rightly so, his family were horrified when, during a hospital stay related to his dementia, staff decided he should not be resuscitated if he developed heart or breathing problems.
His heartbroken brother, Michael had some powerful words to say: “For someone to make that decision, without consulting a member of the family or any one of his carers, was just totally unacceptable.
"No-one has the right to make such a decision in such a disgraceful way...to put those reasons down.
"There was nothing wrong with Andrew's health at the time which would have had an effect on resuscitation."
We couldn’t agree more, but increasingly we are concerned that there are more decisions like this being made and coming to light. Last week we found out that a different NHS Trust investigated unexpected deaths dependent on the mental health of their patients. The investigation threw up a whole catalogue of failings including abstention of basic care.
This is 21st century Britain and it is supposed to be a civilized society. Ordinary citizens have the right to expect that those with authority and in positions of responsibility can be trusted to provide the standard and level of care that they expect. Increasingly they are finding the system wanting.
We don’t want special treatment, but equal standards of treatment for every citizen. After all society is judged by the way it treats and cares for those most vulnerable today.
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