Annals of Government Medicine

The Telegraph reports that documents from Britain’s National Health Service, dated 2017 and 2018, indicate that the NHS contemplated denying medical care to those over 70 in case of a “serious flu epidemic.”

The NHS drew up secret plans to withdraw hospital care from people in nursing homes in the event of a pandemic, The Telegraph can disclose.

Confidential Whitehall documents show that the NHS plans refused treatment to those in their 70s and that “support” would instead be offered to use so-called “end of life pathways”.

In their 70s!

The documents on “NHS surge and triage” and adult social care – labelled “confidential” and “official sensitive” – were created in 2017 and 2018 and sent to government advisers. Both looked at how services would respond to a serious flu outbreak.
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The documents raised scenarios in which, if there was a severe influenza pandemic and extreme pressure on resources, doctors would need to put some elderly patients on an “end of life pathway” and deny them hospital care.

I take it that this approach was not officially implemented during the covid epidemic, at least not fully. But there is a controversy in the U.K. about how the NHS treated people in care homes:

The Telegraph disclosed earlier this year that care homes were asked by NHS managers and GPs to place “do not resuscitate” orders on all residents at the height of the pandemic to keep hospital beds free – in breach of guidelines.

All residents!

When the Covid pandemic hit, The Telegraph found that restricting care turned out to be one of several ways in which care homes were apparently abandoned.

Throughout the covid fiasco, the theme in England was “Protect the NHS.”

Guided by its mantra to “protect the NHS”, the Government effectively loaded the Covid problem on to the care sector by telling them early in April last year that hospital patients could be discharged into care homes, regardless of whether they were Covid-positive or had even been tested.

This makes no sense to me. I would say the purpose of the health care system is to protect patients; it is not the purpose of patients to protect the health care system. But this is the kind of inversion you get with government medicine. The most shocking element of this story is that those slated for abandonment under the “severe flu” scenario included those in their 70s.

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