For full story read Tom Chiver’s Comment in The Telegraph
Monthly Archives: May 2012
Shifty Tintin’s Latest Adventure.
Paul Krugman on Newsnight and his Economic ‘Solution’ for the UK.
Last night, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman was a guest of Jeremy Paxman on the BBC’s Newsnight. He remained in his seat throughout the program and debated on three different economic news stories, Greece, Spain, and the UK. [To watch the programme click here]
Paul Krugman was joined by Andrea Leadsom, a Conservative MP, and Jon Moulton, a venture capitalist, for the final debate on the state of the UK economy. Somewhat predictably, Krugman argued his case from a neo-Keynesian viewpoint, more state spending to stimulate the economy, while Andrea Leadsom and Jon Mouton, equally predictably, argued the small state and austerity viewpoint. It was clear, though, that whereas Krugman was applying a non-ideological solution to the particular problems the UK faces now, Leadsom and Moulton were arguing a viewpoint informed by their own ideological prejudice which supported the current policies of the UK Government. [For my own views on ideology click here]
But I couldn’t help wondering if the question that all parties were trying to address wasn’t framed incorrectly. The UK economy can not be taken in isolation from what is happening in the Eurozone economy and the world as a whole. If it could be taken in isolation, then Paul Krugman would be absolutely correct, borrow, employ, and stimulate growth but as it can’t, and wider political considerations must be taken into account, I believe he is wrong. This doesn’t mean that Mrs Leadsom and Mr Moulton are right, because their ideological position is inflexible, they are unlikely to concede that Paul Krugman could be right if the situation in the world, Eurozone, and the UK changes but they are right, in my view, to support the current UK economic policy for now, even if their reasons for doing so are deeply flawed.
This needs some explanation. The global economy is precipitously unbalanced on a number of fronts and, in my view, there can be no sustainable recovery until these huge imbalances have been corrected. Those imbalances are not restricted to the Eurozone but are far wider and fundamental but the imbalances in the Eurozone pinpoint southern Europe as the weakest link most likely to break first.
When the coalition came into power there was a real danger that the UK, because of it’s unprecedented levels of personal, business, and government debt, it’s over-reliance on the financial industry, and it’s structural deficit might have found itself nearer the centre of the inevitable economic storm which is yet to break. By taking the position that they have, the coalition have successfully distanced the UK from the heart of the problem and in doing so they have been able to give the appearance that the UK can be part of any solution rather than part of the problem. That will not insulate the UK from the contagion that the inevitable correction will cause but it is a significant political achievement, and it should be recognised as such and that ‘political’ achievement could not have happened if the government had taken Krugman’s purely ‘economic’ advice, advice that would not have avoided the global economic correction and the contagion but only thrust the UK nearer the firing line.
That said, there will have to be huge economic corrections and this will change both the political and economic landscape irrevocably. Once these corrections have taken place the political considerations will have to take a backseat and the economic considerations, which Krugman is expert in, will come to the forefront. Under these circumstances the ideological viewpoint of people like Andrea Leadsom MP and Jon Moulton become very dangerous, especially if they mistakenly believe that they have somehow been vindicated by their previous position.
There can be no ideologically based economic solution and I believe there must come a time when the coalition will have to adopt a neo-Keynesian approach to policy, just not now.
Filed under Economic Crisis
Clegg makes a Fair Offer to the British Public.
French now the ‘legalis lingua’ in the UK, Assange to be extradited.
In a frankly amazing majority decision just announced by the UK’s supreme court, it has been revealed that ‘French’ is now the legal language of the UK because of EU treaties.
That is, effectively, what 5 out of 7 senior British Judges, considering the legitimacy of the extradiction request by a Swedish prosecuter of Julian Assange, have decided, and politicians wonder why it is that a growing number of the British public have increasing concerns about the undemocratic authority of the EU ??
The ruling centred around the definition of the term ‘Judicial Authority’, in English the term applies to a judge, and or, court but not a public prosecuter , a role with independent powers, that for all intents and purposes, doesn’t really exist in the UK.
But the Treaty was written in French and English and a similar term ‘autorité judiciaire’ has a broader interpretation which includes public prosecutors.
Rather than a British Supreme Court taking the English definition they have bizarrely taken the French definition and so Assange looks set to be extradited to Sweden.
This decision has extraordinary consequences which I can’t believe that the Supreme Court have properly considered. If the French version of any EU treaty is the ‘legal’ document then unless you understand French you are unlikely to fully understand what your rights are under the terms of those treaties , effectively every English speaker in the UK has, at a stroke, been disenfranchised of their own laws, the critical principle that all laws should be not only written down and accessible but also reasonably comprehendable, has just been holed below the waterline.
This decision will represent, in precedent, the biggest revoltution in British Law since the Norman Conquest of 1066.
It’s bonkers, and it must be challenged imediately.
Full Transcript of what Leveson Protestor said about Blair.
While Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was being questioned earlier today at the Leveson Inquiry, a 49 year old protestor gained entry, interupted the proceedings, and shouted the following:
” Excuse me, this man should be arrested for war crimes.
JP Morgan paid him off for the Iraq War 3 months after he invaded Iraq he held up the Iraq bank for 20 Billion ($?) he was then paid 6 million in dollars every year and still is from JP Morgan 6 months after he left office. The man is a war criminal !”
Note: I’ve not attempted to add too much punctuation as it can slightly change the meaning and it’s difficult to decide on listening exactly where the commas and full stops should be. – gojam
Meanwhile, In a More Just Parallel Universe, Not Too Far Away
Eurovision = UK Derision
We don’t know how much money the BBC pays for the dubious privilege of broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest, we don’t know because the BBC refuses to say but we do know that Great Britain is one of it’s largest contributers. So much so, that the UK has effectively ‘bought’ it’s entry into tonight’s final.
The Eurovision Song contest began in 1956, back then it was technical broadcasting marvel, live broadcasting across the Continent, truly amazing. It reached it’s height of credibility when ABBA won in 1974. From the mid 1980s onwards, it only became remotely watchable if you understood it wasn’t to be taken seriously. It was a joke, an opportunity to laugh at foreigners but somehow the joke is now on us.
The break-up of the USSR, the balkanisation of Eastern Europe, and the creeping expansion of exactly how far into the Middle East and Asia can ‘reasonably’ be considered ‘Europe’, has seen a further deterioration.
It used to be a joke but now the joke is on us and to add insult to injury, we’re paying for it.
Let’s make this Eurovision the last one the UK enters.
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Filed under News
It’s Not Scottish Independence, It’s the Break-up of the UK.
As Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond kicks off his official campaign for Scottish Independence is worth examining just what a mess the referendum in two year’s time will actually be.
Very few Brits are 100% English, Scottish, Welsh, or Irish. Although, if pushed I’d say I was English, I’d have to recognise that I have some Scots and Irish blood in me also.
Now, how are they going to decide who is eligable to vote ?
If it’s those living in Scotland then there will be an awful lot of English able to vote and an even larger number of Scots living in England who won’t be able to vote.
This is not simply about Scottish Independence, it’s the break-up of the UK, and all Britons should get a vote not just those who happen to live north of the border.
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Filed under News
Bankia Look at Restructuring
Filed under Economic Crisis, Humour
Verdict in on Bill Clinton Fundraiser.
Guests paid £125 to meet the former US president, Bill Clinton at a London fundraiser last night for the ‘Clinton Foundation Millennium Network’, I won’t explain what the foundation raises money for because it won’t be any clearer if I did.
Evaporated sweat ran down the walls and dripped from the ceiling, guests were careful to cover their drinks with their hand.
Bill Clinton gave a two minute speech but many of the paying guests didn’t get the chance to see it.
Full Story at Daily Telegraph
On Heraclitus, and Against Ideology.
Heraclitus of Ephesus was an early Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived around 500BC and I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for him. He believed that the universe was in ‘flux’, always moving, a modern physicist might intrepret that ‘flux’ as the ‘arrow of time’ constantly and relentlessly rolling onwards.
To demonstrate this and his many other insights, Heraclitus developed a large number of maxims, the most famous of which attempts to describe the nature of the ‘flux’.
“One can not step twice into the same river, for the river is always moving and you are never the same person.”
For me, this short analogous maxim articulates perfectly my primary objection to all forms of ideology, whether economic/political or religious/philosophical because ideology presumes that the world does not change, that history repeats itself, and that a set package of rules can be applied which can provide the solution to any problem regardless of the circumstances. As this is obviously not the case, and most people instinctively understand that it is not the case, it’s probably worthwhile taking a little time to examine exactly why it is that human beings are so attracted by ideology before returning to Heraclitus.
The Universe is complex, life is complex, and frankly, it would be near impossible for any sentient being to evolve and function unless most of that complexity could be set aside, ‘rules’ provide the method of setting aside much of that complexity. Very broadly, there are two types of rules that human beings apply, mostly without ever consciously understanding that we are doing so.
The first are physical ‘rules’. If you were to drop a glass, you would apply a number of rules. You would ‘know’ that the glass will fall, you would instinctively anticipate it’s rate of descent, and, if the height from which you dropped the glass was high enough and the surface onto which it is falling hard enough, you will anticipate that the glass will shatter on impact. You don’t need to actually drop a glass to accept that this is true because since birth you have developed ‘rules’ from your own experience. It is important to quickly note the limits of the physical rules that we all apply, when the glass shatters you will instinctively jump backward, not because you antipate that shards of glass will hit you but because, from experience you have learnt that the distribution of glass fragments is unpredictable and you potentially might be hit by flying glass. Here you intuitively apply a general ‘rule’ of unpredictability.
The second class of ‘rules’ are social. They range from the blindingly obvious, if I punch someone on the nose, that person is unlikely to react positively, to the extremely subtle but these rules exist and are leant from birth.
So ‘rules’ are a good thing. Without them there can be no learning experience, we would have no method of departmentalising the knowable and the unknowable and the complexity of life and the universe would overawe and overwhelm us all. Intelligence can not evolve without rules, just as rules can not evolve without intelligence and so we can see that part of the story of mankind’s intellectual evolution has been the small incremental development of intelligence and rule making in parallel.
It is exactly because rule making is one of mankind’s most successful developments that we are all so easily seduced by ideology. Afterall, wouldn’t it be so much easier if we didn’t have to consider complex issues on their merits and instead were able to apply simple packages of rules ?
But Heraclitus of Ephesus identifies the problem that all those who unthinkingly adopt any political/economic or religious/philosophical ideology fail to consider and that is that some situations and circumstances are just far too complex to allow us to adopt simple rules.
“One can not step twice into the same river, for the river is always moving and you are never the same person.”
Let’s use the current economic crisis to measure the validity of Heraclitus’ observation because currently there are very large numbers of people who want to apply an ideological solution to the problem, whether that is capitalism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, or whichever ‘ism’ takes your fancy.
Heraclitus’ river is continually moving, you could set up a movie camera and film it over a year and you would see that it is never the same river twice but when you stop filming does the river stop flowing and changing ? Of course it doesn’t, this is analogous to economic history, there is a broad canon of recorded experience on economic matters, with the benefit of hindsite it may look like a comprehendable narrative but is not. The ‘now’ is always unpredictable and economic history is a compendium of consecutive ‘now’ moments which appear to retrospectively make sense only because we are applying an artificial ‘rule’ of history.
Similarly, none of us are the same person as yesterday. The main difference, in such a short time frame, is that we have the experience of the last 24 hours which differentiates us from how we were yesterday and by extension, which magnifies the differences, society is not the same, the economy is not the same. Knowledge and experience have changed us all.
It is one thing to learn from history, it is quite another to draw ideological conclusions from it and then to apply those conclusions to form general rules.
For my own part, I don’t believe that the solutions to resolve the current economic crisis will be found within the dogma of any ideology, and it is precisely because of this that I conclude that this is not only an economic crisis but also a political crisis. Any solution must have elements of socialism within it, which those who are ideologically opposed to Socialism will disagree with. Equally, it must contain elements of Capitalism which will not satisfy ideological Socialists. Any solution which people will consider to be ideologically inconsistent will be extremely difficult to communicate, and in any democratic country how can any solution be pursued if it’s so difficult to communicate, especially if the electorate have become ideologically polarised ?
There is only one solution, each and everyone of us must recognise that all ideologies, though comforting in their simplicity, are just misapplied rules, we need to set them aside and think independently of them.
We, each of us, need to metaphorically step into the river and recognise for ourselves that it is continually in flux.
Filed under Economic Crisis, Philosophy, Politics
Fire, Fine, and Jail the Tax Avoiding Civil Servants.
It was announced today in the House of Commons by Treasury Minister Danny Alexander that no less than 2,400 senior civil servant have been dodging tax.
By paying their tax via private companies and agencies they have been able to avoid the top rate of tax, 50%, and only pay the 20% – 21% on corporation tax.
At most it looks like the Government will only terminate those ‘off payroll’ contracts.
But what they should do is make an example of these swindling ‘Sir Humphries’ and fire, fine, and jail them. Yes all 2,400 of them.
It is an utter disgrace and it just shows the level of systematic corruption at every level of the British Establishment.
Oh, and as final boot out of the door take away their ‘honours’ and let them make their way in the world as plain old ‘Mister’ like the rest of us.
Waiting for the Olympic Boom.
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Filed under Economic Crisis, Humour
Why Beecroft is Wrong About Relaxing Employment Law.
Mr Beecroft’s suggested policies may well produce jobs. This will look good in the figures. “So many hundred thousand jobs created”. Even better, he and others can argue that his policies WOULD create so many jobs; pull a figure off the ceiling and say it’s all the fault of those wicked Lib Dems that this hypothetical number of jobs is not being created, without having to subject themselves to any sort of reality test.
But what kind of jobs will they be? What does not get mentioned is that if the last shreds of employment protection vanish, as Mr Beecroft and others seem to be suggesting, then any jobs created will be completely insecure, probably also low-paid, short-term and part-time. It is impossible for families to live on this kind of totally unreliable income.
It won’t affect me directly, because I happen to be self-employed. But while the freedom is lovely, in some ways it’s a very hard way to make a living. Not everyone is up to it.
There’s a family I know. They are good people. They are intelligent, hard-working and resourceful. The father and son both prefer to go out to work rather than sit on their bottoms on benefits saying they will have to be paid so much before they’ll even go out the door, because they are both people with a large measure of self-respect. They want to work.
Unfortunately, the best work they have been able to find is with a couple of national retail chains who offer the modern fashion for “zero hours” contracts. Under this system, you are employed, but the employer has no obligation to offer you any set number of hours a week. You are called in and paid as you are needed, from day to day.
It works very well from the company’s point of view, because they have a pool of well-trained casual labour who know the outlet, its stock and procedures, and can be called on, or not, just as needed. It works less well for the family, because they never know whether or not they are going to make enough to be able to pay their bills this week.
Where it gets completely crazy is from the point of view of the staff in the local benefits office, who have to calculate a different “top up” every week, according to how much the father and son have made. In effect, the State and its benefit system is being used to subsidise low and insecure pay policies by employers.
Now if employment protection is reduced even further, it will make things worse, not better. One possibility is that there will be a great deal more of this sort of thing. The other possibility is the “hard-line” option, that benefit support to top up situations of low, casual and unpredictable incomes is removed.
That last option will lead to real destitution. It will lead to more crime, probably more rioting, shopkeepers going bust as people no longer have any money at all to spend but the shopkeeper has to find the money to pay a security guard or two…… well they’ll close, I would in that situation……. landlords finding their tenants cannot pay the rent because they don’t have the money to, therefore an increase in squatting, and a good deal more besides.
None of this is likely to affect Mr Beecroft, who probably lives in a very nice gated estate with its own security, always assuming he lives in the UK at all and not in some overseas tax haven with a nice climate and a compliant government. But it is likely to affect the rest of us, quite radically. That is why, very much to my surprise, I find myself more inclined to trust Cable and Clegg. As other posters have pointed out, they were elected and they therefore do have some kind of mandate; unlike Mr Beecroft, who speaks only for himself.
Filed under News
Curious George Meets Christine Lagarde
Curious George and the Prime Minister Read the IMF Orders.
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Filed under Economic Crisis, Humour
‘…..Words, Too, Changed Their Meaning.’
Below is a list of real words that begin with EU and their modern definitions.
EUcalyptus – Also known as Eurogeddon, The collapse of the Eurozone.
EUgenics – The creeping programme of abolishing all independent nationalities and creating an homogeneous ‘European’ citizenry.
EUlogy – The kind of speech we’ll hear alot of after the EUcalyptus
EUnuch – The name given to a single member of the homogeneous ‘European’ citizenry.
EUphonium – A bureaucratic state which pretends to be democratic.
EUphony – The leader of a EUphonium.
EUphemism- Anything a EUphony ever says.
EUphoric – How most Europhiles feel about the EUphonium
EUreka – What most Europhobes think about the EUphonium
EUploids – The name given to the civil servants who work in a EUphonium
EUrythmic – Slang, normally posed as a question, meaning; ‘Do you come from a PIIGS country ?’ as in, ‘Are you with Mick ?’
EUthanasia – A preciptous act which causes the EUcalyptus
EUtrophy – The very slow deterioration of the European body politic, similar in definition to atrophy.
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Filed under Economic Crisis, Humour, Politics
Greece: The Duel Currency Option.
Before I start I’d just like to acknowledge John Ward and his blog ‘The Slog’ and in particular his posts here and here which are concerned with the withdrawal of Greek Euros from the Eurozone money supply. Greek Euros can be distinguished from Euros from other Eurozone countries by the prefaced ‘Y’ in their serial number and JW suggests, and provides some evidence of, their ‘phasing out’.
That done, I want to look at an option that does not appear to have been ventured by anyone yet, and that is the option of Greece operating two parallel currencies. If you’ve ever been to a third world country where US dollars have been a perfectly acceptable form of currency despite there already being an official currency, then you’ll get the general idea.
It’s actually far simpler than any of the other options that I’ve seen mooted about and would resolve the issues that I address previously on this blog, here.
Under this scenario Greece would exit the Eurozone, institute a new Drachma but would not stamp existing Euros or collect and replace them. From that point on every official transaction would be in the new drachma but the general public could use either Euros or drachmas in their everyday use for an extended period of time.
That’s it in a nutshell and it’s surprisingly easy to do.
If we accept that the ‘Greek’ Euro is being withdrawn, which would be extremely sensible as not doing so would undermine the Euro completely as effectively there would be two virtually indistinguishable Euros with two different values (Greek and all the others) that could be the first step in this process.
Greece would then default and exit the Eurozone. The Euros left in Greek hands would just be left where they are, think of it as a divorce settlement, and Greece would then operate, for all intents and purposes, with two parallel currencies.
That’s it, it’s that simple.
Filed under Economic Crisis
The Liverpool Care Pathway, The Dirty Secret of the NHS.
I’ve always made a distinction between my ‘online’ activity, and my real life, and when I set this blog up I was determined to maintain that partition but I have to accept that all of us are a product of our own personal experience and that the truest things that any of us say are those that have touched us the closest.
Yesterday my mother-in-law died of complications due to pancreatic cancer. She was one of the most formidable, intelligent, incisive, and eloquent people that I have ever met, she could hold her own in any conversation or argument, we both shared an interest in politics and current affairs, and so we hit it off immediately. I can’t say we always agreed, that would be boring, mostly we duelled and I’d hope that she’d concede that honours were generally even.
But this article is not a eulogy to my mother-in-law, nor is it a criticism of the care she received, at the hands of the NHS, since she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago. This article is about the manner in which this fine lady was allowed to die, and it’s written in the hope that anyone who reads this who has a close relative with a terminal condition, might become alert when they hear a doctor or a nurse talk of the euphemism that is ‘the Liverpool Care Pathway’.
Under these cicumstances my mother-in-law is just a case study and if I deviate from objectivity then I hope you will forgive me but it will not be my intention to do so.
My mother-in-law, from this point onwards to be refered to as J, was admitted to hospital on the 2nd of this month after becoming extremely sick due to an infection, later diagnosed as gastroenteritus, to be frank her life expectancy at that point was probably only measured in weeks at worst, and months at the very best anyway, and that was understood by J and everyone close to her.
Initially, J was put in an isolation ward and the infection was treated with antibiotics, steadily J improved and she was moved to a public ward but unfortunately due to complications related to J’s terminal condition her liver was no longer processing correctly and J’s condition deteriorated. The day before yesterday, the evening before her death, my wife went to see her again, that evening J was as lucid and eloquent as ever though my wife did comment, on her return, on the yellowing of her complexion.
Up until this point, I make little criticism of the care and treatment at the hands of the NHS, in fact I would commend them, but it is from this point onwards that the care ceased to be appropriate even for a dog, let alone a decent, hard working human being who had always payed her taxes and played by society’s rules.
At 10 am the next morning my wife received a telephone call from a Dr C, a doctor at Southampton General Hospital, requesting that she and her sister attend a meeting at the hospital at mid-day because J’s condition had deteriorated overnight. We all arrived at the ward, prompt, at noon but as no doctor was to be found, we all went to see J.
It is extremely difficult to visit a person you know well and respect, and to recognise that they no longer possess the faculties, the sentience, which define us all as human beings. It is a horror beyonds words, to recognise the frame but not the characteristics of humanity, to see a writhing, restless animal in pain. There is still compassion but dear God, the horror of it.
The three of us, my wife, her sister and myself sat around J waiting for Dr C, I walked away after five minutes, love and duty compelled the others to stay. It won’t come as a surprise to you if I say that both my wife and her sister are very intelligent people, the apple, afterall, doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and while waiting, sitting by their mother’s side, in that time, they realised that the ‘plugs’ or ‘temporary intravenous ingress’, or whatever they are called, which allow the intravenous infusion of drugs and antibiotics, which had been in her left wrist for two weeks were no longer there. I was there long enough to see the look of recognition on their faces. Something had changed and it wasn’t just the deterioration of J’s condition.
Obviously, the stark deterioration in J’s condition in the last 24 hours was uppermost in all of our minds as we met Dr C and a specialist nurse in a side room, in hindsite, would it be so unreasonable to consider that the half an hour delay was a form of emotional/psychological conditioning ? I’ll leave it to you to decide whether we’d been emotionally ‘softened up’ for what was to come.
The very young Dr C talked too much, the specialist nurse kept quiet and smiled convincingly. It was couched as a question, open to J’s daughters to decide, but really under the circumstances, there appeared to me only the confirmation of a decision already made.
I attended as a husband of one of the daughters and I was determined not to intervene in any decision making, though for a long time neither could bring themselves to say the words that Dr C wanted to hear, that didn’t stop me from asking questions. “I’ve heard terrible stories of patients who have not been fed or hydrated”, I ventured. The smiling nurse intervened, “We will treat her in compliance with the Liverpool Care Pathway”. Those last three words were said quickly (evasively ?).
No one can know everything, and I’d not heard of the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ before, my wife had heard of it, but she was so emotionally pummelled by that time, that she’d forgotten its context. Little did I know that the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ was exactly the kind of programme I’d been worried about, I’d been seduced, in my ignorance, into accepting what I most feared.
Eventually, the two daughters agreed and the verbose Dr C congratulated them on making their difficult but ‘correct’ decision, the nurse smiled.
In hindsite, my wife and I both realise that the decision to withdraw all medication, painkillers,, food, and water, unless explicitly requested by the patient (this is what the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ is) had already been taken at a meeting of that DR C mentioned had taken place the evening before, when J was still capable of making the decision herself, and that she had been allowed to deteriorate to that lamentable condition before the family had met her, probably so that they would find the decision ‘easier’ to make.
A palliative nurse talked to us then, reassuring us that J would receive the best palliative care in the time that was left to her. My wife and her sister wanted her to go to the local Macmillan hospice, as she had been registered with them but they were told that she’d receive the appropriate care at the hospital. “How many palliative nurses are there in the hospital ?” I asked,”Four” came the reply (I found out later that at least half of these were part time). “How can you ensure that she gets the appropriate care if there are only four of you in such a large hospital ?” I countered, There was a hestitation before, “All the nursing staff have had training.” “If they’ve all had training then what’s the point of specialised palliative nurses like yourself ? Palliative care is not only about the dying but also about the bereaved, how can a nurse on a ward with five other patients ensure that ?” I pursued. There was no satisfactory answer but it was clear that J would not be moved.
I went home an hour after that, but the two girls remained by their mother’s side. My wife returned home around six o’clock as she was led to believe that her mothers condition was stable. Around eight she received a phone call to come into the hospital as her mother was getting even worse.
When she and her sister arrived an east asian nurse was behind the ward desk. “Is our mother here ?”, my wife asked. “Yeh, she still here”. “In the ward?” “Yeh, behind curtain.”
They made their way to J’s bed and sat down, J appeared to be sleeping. My wife’s sister commented on how peaceful she looked in comparison to earlier in the day. They held her hand, waiting for her to wake up. After ten minutes they realised that J, was dead. But they sought the nurses confirmation. “Nurse, is my mother dead ?”, “Yeh, she dead”- “But couldn’t you have told us that she was dead?”- “I tell you, she dead-” “No you didn’t”, ” No, I tell you, she gone.”……………………………………………………………………..”Did my mum die peacefully?”- “Oh no, she vomit blood.”
Needless to say that both sisters are traumatised after the day’s events.
Now, I’m not sure whether or not this falls beneath the standard of NHS palliative care but I’m pretty certain it falls well below most peoples expectation of it. Did J suffer in that final 24 hours ? It is my honest opinion that she most certainly did. She silently writhed on the bed, and when my wife took her hand she brought it quickly to her mouth trying to drink from it. The dehydration caused her mouth to fill with white foam.
As for my own view, this halfway house between continued care and euthanasia, which is the Liverpool Care Pathway, ensures all of the negatives of both alternatives, while delivering none of the benefits of either.
J was not alone, this practice is going on in every NHS hospital across the country every day, in some respects J was lucky, she lasted less than a day, others can survive for alot longer. I suspect the staff have become hardened to the reality and have ceased long ago to ask themselves whether it’s morally right.
If you decided to embark on the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ yourself as a form of suicide, you’d be sectioned and forcibly medicated. If you did it to another, you’d be locked up for murder.
If you have a loved one who is terminally ill, then please don’t wait until the end before talking to someone about this, otherwise you’ll not be able to rationally understand what’s going on, and watch that the hospital staff don’t embark on the Liverpool Care Pathway before talking to you first, as they most certainly did in J’s case.
For more information about the procedure of the Liverpool Care Pathway, please follow this link .
Update- Since writing this I’ve discovered that 18 countries have adopted the Liverpool Care Pathway (LPC) procedures, it may be called something different in your country
Filed under News