Governments and Hospitals are now embracing very early Palliative Care as a means of attempting to tame rising health costs.
People are being referred to Palliative Care months or years before they require end of life care. They say “as early as possible is best “.
Often people feel as though they have no choice but to accept early palliative care. While early palliative care can sometimes be good, not everyone wants it. Having early palliative care imposed on people who don’t want it is not a good thing.
Meeting Palliative Care teams and seeing that the doctors have very limited experience, one realises that no good care is going to be available. One can be promised expert care prior to referral, only to be depressingly disappointed.
Having watched a family member be coerced into early palliative care, I am all to aware of the damage it can do to one’s hope.
We attended two outpatient palliative care appointments and this was crushingly disappointing. The very inexperienced doctor offered no glimmer of hope that good treatment would be available.
Later during an inpatient admission for a procedure, we were told that palliative care would manage pain as they were experts in pain management. There was no choice offered, this was imposed. No expert pain management eventuated. The only doctor that came to manage pain was a brand new intern just out of medical school.
I repeatedly heard patients being told that they would wish to die at home. There was no discussion about options or choices. Staff always thought they knew the patients wishes. They always believed they new best for the patients. These are the same staff who advocate for their own role saying they give choices and options to patients.
It seemed that once patients were given the palliative label, they were also given a very strong message that they were no longer welcome at the hospital even though they were not expected to need end of life care for at least months.
I believe that once people were labeled as palliative, they were treated as less human than other patients. They were no longer treated with respect and no longer kept informed about their condition.
Patients are made to feel that they are just a burden to the system and that they would be selfish to expect anything other than the cheapest treatment.
If this system continues to deteriorate, the next step will be imposing “Euthanasia” on the vulnerable.
Where people are treated as less than human, where there is no respect, no choices, and very poor pain management, many will see medically assisted death as their only reasonable choice.
In no way can this be viewed as improving the quality of life, this is a failure to provide good quality health care.
It is not the duty of doctor’s to provide death. It is the duty of governments and health care services to ensure that good quality health care is available.