NHS denies treatment to dying grandmother
This is Linda O’Boyle, deceased. She was a retired health worker and had dedicated her life to healthcare. Her husband was also an NHS manager for 30 years, and both have paid their taxes diligently, including the increasingly-extortionate National Insurance. And then Mrs O’Boyle was diagnosed with colon cancer.
She had been receiving state-funded treatment, including chemotherapy, but could not obtain the life-prolonging drug Cetuximab on the NHS. She therefore paid £11,000 for it privately, and her husband credits this drug with Mrs Boyle’s three extra months with her three sons and four grandchildren.
But the decision to purchase this drug privately, notwithstanding that there was no alternative means of obtaining it, caused the NHS to withdraw the treatment she was receiving. In fact, the O’Boyles originally asked the NHS to provide the drug and offered to pay the NHS whatever it cost them to buy it, but this was refused. Her local health trust then compounded her stress by forcing her to pay for the care she had previously been receiving courtesy of all those taxes she had paid throughout her life.
Mrs O'Boyle is believed to be the first person to die after being denied free care because of the 'co-payment' prohibition, where a patient desires to top-up treatment by paying privately for extra drugs. It appears that ‘top-up’ fees, while demanded by law in the state’s provision of education, are prohibited by law in the state’s provision of health. A patient may either have treatment under the NHS or privately, but not both in parallel.
The ‘co-payment’ option was blocked by Health Secretary Alan Johnson because he claimed ‘it would create a two-tier Health Service’.
Well, it appears that there is already a two-tier health service:
Firstly, Cetuximab is available on the NHS in Scotland. The English are subsidising this through the Barnett formula.
Some NHS trusts provide drugs and services that others do not; some charge for things that are free elsewhere; some patients have to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, while others are treated locally.
If Mrs O’Brien had been abusing her body through illegal drug use, the NHS would have prescribed her all the treatment she would have needed for rehabilitation. Those who pay for illegal drugs are not deprived of NHS services, so why should someone be deprived of treatment for purchasing legal drugs?
Thousands upon thousands of immigrants from the EU make use of the NHS every year. They do not need to have paid a penny in UK taxes, and the service is free at the point of need.
It seems that in New Labour's two-tier NHS, the rich are deprived of the services that are freely enjoyed by the poor.
But there is a more important dimension to this tragic story, and it is to do with the founding principles of the NHS. Life is foundational to the entire enterprise of medicine. Its importance is reinforced throughout Scripture: not only is murder prohibited, but so is a detailed list of life-threatening injuries (Exod 21:12-36). Jesus healed because he cared.
A National Health Service is supposed to care; it is supposed to heal; it is supposed to inspire hope for life. In short, it is supposed to express love. Yet this petty ‘co-payment’ prohibition emanates from the spiteful heart of a callous government which subsumes care and compassion to bureaucracy and ‘equality’. If all cannot afford it, then those who can shall be deprived of it.
The NHS was founded in every local community to express Christian concern for the poor and to bring justice. But it has become a centralised, distant and inflexible beast that has ceased to care about what it means to be human. Love understands and empathises, and exhorts people to do good that others might be built up (1Cor 8:1; Gal 6:10). The NHS was supposed to be the embodiment of the Good Samaritan who follows the way of love (1Cor 14:1) because it is ‘the most excellent way’ (12:31). It brought to an end the age in which the poor were left to die in the streets, and children died for want of a simple inoculation.
But now it aborts and kills; it hurts and alienates. It truly beggars belief that any man or woman with a feeling heart would purposely deprive someone who was dying of a treatment which it was within their power to give.
Especially if the only hindrance is spiteful, petty bureaucracy and unjust, Marxist centralisation.