Friday, August 20, 2021

Is the assisted suicide debate about healthcare savings in the UK?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The assisted suicide lobby must have forgot to tell Polly Toynbee that legalizing assisted suicide has nothing to do with money as she argues that assisted suicide needs to be legalized in the UK based on healthcare savings.

Toynbee doesn't come out with a crass statement demanding that people die to save money, instead she writes about The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) decisions and protocols concerning end-of-life care as Nice attempts to control healthcare spending.

Toynbee writes:
On Thursday, it (Nice) opened a consultation period for new guidelines on how much NHS England should spend on end-of-life drugs, planning to remove some of the extra funding for very expensive drugs that may only delay death a little. About 15% of hospital spending goes on patients in their last year, and nearly a third on people in the last three years of life. 
Nice sets a standard limit: no drug can cost more than £30,000 a year, and it has to be a year of good-quality life. But a while back, under pressure, Nice raised that to £50,000 for drugs in the last three months of life. Professor Gillian Leng, Nice’s chief executive, tells me public opinion demanded it (the Mail had been running a ferocious campaign for hyper-expensive end-of-life cancer drugs). But now, she says, public opinion has shifted considerably against spending more on final months after Nice’s consultation with patients, the public and medical professionals. That extra £20,000 should be reapportioned.
Toynbee is saying that the purpose for Nice's consultation on spending guidelines is to save money in the healthcare system. Toynbee takes the issue of healthcare savings further. She writes:
Parliament may soon debate a bill on assisted dying proposed by Baroness Meacher and there are more new MPs ready to back the public view. One argument often used by opponents is that dying people would feel pressured “not to be a burden”. But supporters ask why that should be an illegitimate reason. Many in terminal illness have no wish to stay alive a few months longer as a great burden to family and community. That’s a matter for each person to decide.
Toynbee states - That's a matter for each person to decide - after she explains that the UK can't afford treatment at the end of life. In other words, if Toynbee is serious about the need for healthcare savings, then eventually the option will be no treatment or death.

While Canada's parliament was debating the expansion of the euthanasia law through Bill C-7, The Parliamentary Budget Officer projected that Canada's provinces would save at least $149 Million per year if Bill C-7 passed.

If its not all about the money, you cannot deny that legalizing assisted death is about the money.

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