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Let’s make our country a land fit for heroes at the end of life

Posted by Anthony Ozimic on 2 August 2016


Josef Boberek was a great-grandfather and a war veteran

Recently the Daily Mail reported:

Doctors at one of the country's leading hospitals condemned a veteran to die on a notorious 'death pathway' after they wrongly decided he could not be saved.

Great-grandfather Josef Boberek was admitted to Hammersmith Hospital in West London with a chest infection, but died days later after doctors incorrectly told his family that he was at death's door and deliberately withdrew his fluids and normal medication.

Now an official health watchdog report seen by the Mail on Sunday has revealed that the pensioner would have lived and returned to his normal life had he received proper treatment and not been placed on the discredited Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

Mr Boberek's daughter Jayne, who fought a three-year battle to uncover the truth, said last night: 'My father was condemned to an unnecessary early death by the doctors. They had no right to take his life, and him away from me.'

'Ongoing NHS scandal'

Commenting on the case for the newspaper, Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist, said:

"Placing sick elderly patients who are diagnosed as 'dying' on end-of-life regimes - where they are deprived of fluids - is an ongoing scandal in the NHS and must not be allowed to continue."

Profound sympathies

"We at SPUC express our profound sympathies for Miss Boberek. In addition, Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, says: "We welcome the Ombudsman's robust findings in this case. It doesn't mean that everyone who dies on an end-of-life pathway is being deliberately dehydrated and starved; but the scope for abuse is now plain.

"It is wrong for the courts to define ordinary food and fluids as medical treatment. This re-definition was made originally in order to dehydrate brain-injured patients.

"The presumption that a patient has three days to live treats a prediction of death as a diagnosis.

Discriminatory attitudes

"There are discriminatory attitudes behind failing to recognise the duty of care owed to everyone, including those with disabilities or a short life-expectancy.

"There is also a wrong approach to suffering; a lack of determination to address suffering; and a giving-in to the attitude: 'If you can't kill the pain, kill the patient'.

"These issues need to be addressed by medical schools, professional bodies, patient advocacy groups, disability rights groups, medical lawyers and ethicists. The unbalanced stress on autonomy, and poor understanding of ethical issues at the end of life, mean that many people are left at the mercy of morally inept doctors."

Respect for our heroes at the end of life

The hastened death of Josef Boberek is particularly sad for me, as my late grandfather was also a Polish veteran of the Second World War who served in the British Army. He too experienced neglect in hospital during his last days (albeit in Poland).

Poles suffered and gave so much to this country during the war; death by neglect in a British hospital is a cruel irony which should never be allowed to happen again.

Let's make our country a land fit for heroes.

To find how you can help win victories for the sick, disabled and the vulnerable, sign our Lives Worth Living petition opposing the latest NICE guidelines, which threaten to continue some of the LCP's anti-life practices.

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