Not News in U.S.: 60,000 on NHS's 'Liverpool Care Pathway' (to Death) in UK Never Told

A search this morning at Google News on "Liverpool Pathway" (not in quotes) returned 69 items (Google's initial indication was over 800, but it was really only 69). Roughly 60 of them related to the National Health Service's "palliative care" protocols known as the "Liverpool Care Pathway" employed in the UK's government-run health care system to place hospital patients on a path to death. The latest news about the pathway has drawn the attention of a few prolife blogs in the U.S., but almost no attention from U.S. establishment press sources.

That's stunnning, given both the seriousness of the news about the pathway's real-world effects, and the reactions of those who insist that it's still a great thing in their brave new healthcare world. A UK Daily mail item on December 30 summarized the extent of the horror in three succinct sentences (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.

Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.

From what I can tell, the term "palliative care," which supposedly "is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients," is devolving to really mean "lack of care designed to end a life" in the UK. I don't know how else to react, given how the term is used by defenders of the indefensible in a UK Independent item on January 8:

Specialists in palliative medicine have hit back at critics of the so-called Liverpool Care Pathway, a checklist devised to help hospital doctors and nurses assist patients to a humane, dignified and pain-free end. They argued that its aim was to enable patients to “live until they die” – freed from the paraphernalia of tubes and machines that can increase distress.

The measure, developed over a decade ago by palliative care specialists in Liverpool, has become embroiled in controversy in recent months, as some doctors, religious leaders and pro-life groups have alleged that patients are being put on the “pathway to death” without their consent or that of their families in response to financial incentives from the NHS. The Daily Mail has run a campaign claiming hospitals are being bribed with millions of pounds to send patients to an early grave.

... An estimated 350,000 patients with chronic illnesses need palliative care each year but fewer than half (170,000) receive it, of whom 130,000 are placed on the pathway.

The audit last year by the Royal College of Physicians and Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool of 178 hospitals found 44 per cent of patients who were conscious and a third of families were not consulted before the decision was taken.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, condemned the failure to consult as “utterly unacceptable.” But he defended the Liverpool Care Pathway as a “fantastic step forward”, adding that “one or two mistakes” should not be allowed to discredit it ...

It's a long way from "one or two" to 60,000, Mr. Hunt.

In essence, the pathway represents the real life application of the "death panels" against which former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin warned in 2009 as the threat that Democrats in Washington would pass its own version of state-controlled health care now known as ObamaCare materialized. As Wesley Smith at National Review noted just before Christmas, this is where nationalized health takes a country, regardless of whether its citizens want it to go there:

Doctors Lose Humanity Serving Govt. Masters

The implosion of UK healthcare quality is a warning for the U.S.

... Loss of humanity is a predictable consequence of centralized control. As the quality of healthcare worsens, the technocracy kicks into high gear, issuing more regulations, guidelines, and treatment (or rationing) checklists–further devolving medicine into a deprofessionalized, connect-the-dots craft. And that can be deadly.

The same thing will happen in the U.S. once Obamacare’s cost/benefit and best care standards bureaucracies are up and running.

"Zeke the Bleak" Emanuel and his fellow grim reapers stand at the ready to implement their equivalent model known -- which gives "gives preference (for medical treatment) to people 13 to 40 years old — as long as they are reasonably healthy" -- right here in the U.S.

Segments of the U.S. press surely are aware of what is happening in the UK. One can only conclude that the are doing all they can to ensure that the warning signals from Britain's NHS are never seen or heard in the USA.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.