Bishop’s warning about seriously ill Catholics in state-funded care

Seriously ill Catholics in state-funded palliative care are at risk of being deliberately killed, a British bishop says.

Bishop Philip Egan’s pastoral message followed a report which concluded 650 people died at a hospital within his diocese between 1989 and 2000 after they were given large doses of painkillers without medical justification.

Egan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the report and described the deaths as “a terrible tragedy.”

Seriously ill patients are still facing the same threats within Britain’s National Health Service, Egan says.

The likelihood of them being over-sedated and dehydrated mean people are safer being cared for at home than in hospital, he says.

While he says Britain’s National Health Service “is a huge blessing,” Egan says it’s important to be “vigilant to the policies, values, priorities and procedures that operate within it.”

“As next of kin, gently insist on being involved in decisions. It might be appropriate to ask staff for a second opinion or a re-evaluation of treatment.”

He has also called for a review of geriatric and end-of-life care “in relation to fundamental moral principles.”

In this respect, he noted it is “not morally permissible until the very last to withdraw feeding and hydration.”

So far, no medical professionals have been prosecuted following the investigation into the deaths of the 650 people.

Jeremy Hunt, who is the secretary of state for health, has indicated that police will study new evidence produced by the investigating panel.


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