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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

NHS “Quality of Life” Kills Disabled Patients



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I keep saying that if you want to see what the USA will look like in ten years under Obamacare, just look at the mess that calls itself the National Health Service in the UK. It isn’t that the NHS is socialized medicine per se–although that is part of it. More importantly in my view, the NHS has a sclerotic and bureaucratic top-down approach to healthcare that deprofessionalizes medicine by dictating treatment protocols from on high.

Now, a columnist in the left wing Guardian notes that disabled people face deadly discrimination in NHS hospitals. From, “The NHS is Killing Disabled People:”

Each week 24 disabled people are killed by such prejudiced presumptions; indeed, there was a case at my local hospital recently. These shocking figures are based on a government-commissioned inquiry into one region of the country, which found people with disabilities 37% more likely to be killed by incompetence or inadequate care � and their lives end on average 16 years earlier than they should. The more serious the disabilities, the higher the risk.

Forgive me if I fail to join the national worship of the NHS. Mencap has been campaigning to prevent these deaths, logging at least 100 cases over the past six years. The charity blames poor communication with parents and carers as the main cause � but it has concluded that the only explanation for so many preventable deaths is prejudice. Doctors and nurses reflect views prevalent across society that people with profound disabilities are second-class citizens, their lives not worth saving. Imagine the furore if any other minority group was dying in such numbers.

Disabled people always face hurdles in being treated as fully equal. It is a consequence of rejecting human exceptionalism.

But medical discrimination involves more than a discriminatory cultural default setting. The NHS explicitly controls costs through a ”quality of life” rationing system, dictated by NICE–the misnamed National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence. With quality of life judgmentalism in the bone marrow of the system, we can hardly be surprised that those deemed to have a lower quality of life–and who happen to be more expensive to care for–end up on the short end of the stethoscope.

Obamacare will institute the same kind of quality of life rationing, over time, here in the USA. Indeed, many among the medical intelligentsia and other architects of Obamacare are all for it as a way of controlling costs–including the New England Journal of Medicine



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