Perhaps I am not alone in thinking that over the last few years death seems to have become a little too prevalent in nanny state policy - after all, mankind has coped with death from the beginning of human life, and did not need government help and massive media campaigns to do so.
Moreover we are now swamped with publicity and government edicts promoting the fear of death. We will die from too much alcohol, too many cigarettes, failure to do up our seat belts, cancer, obesity, insufficient exercise, the wrong diet, AIDS, SARS, HIV, alzheimers, terrorist attacks, dementia, flu, global warming, the winter cold, pollution, cycling without a helmet, Ebola and more. We should be afraid ... very afraid of dying, except perhaps when we die within a government backed euthenasia scheme.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not, millions of people have not died from Bird Flu or SARS and the media hype of such a disaster has been allowed to fade into the long grass, and into short public memories. In contrast to that death hype, the government and media did not report, and have never reported, on the millions who have died from vaccinations which are claimed to protect us from death - but we will leave that for another day.
Recognising that death is real, we must acknowledge that many good people have worked to support people at the end of their life - nursing, comforting and dealing with both physical and emotional pain. These are very special people who often cope with very difficult and emotionally draining circumstances. They deserve our widespread recognition, support and appreciation.
Today though, family, community, public and private end of life palliative care is just not enough, and according to the government the ordinary man or woman just isn't equipped to deal with this issue anymore, and we all need help.
British Government Steps In To Help
Happily, in the background, the British government, its NGOs and Third Sector agents have spent a vast amount of time and energy to give us that very help to cope with death - and all their good works are now emerging from the shadows.
Take for example the recent headline concerning St Helier hospital where dying became a big issue rather quickly. Charity 'Dying Matters' had been assisting the hospital to train doctors and nurses in death. Presumably coping with dying and death is no longer part of medical training, but no matter.
In the course of their charitable work a memo was issued which caused a stir:
'Dying Matters' Awareness Week
The palliative care team had stands in both Epsom and St Helier Hosiptal to promote the national 'Dying Matters' awareness week 9 -13 May. Dying matters celebrates life - and reminds us that we only die once! It encourages us to tell our families now what our wishes would be and to write them down while we are fit and well. Examples include registering an organ donor, making a will - and some people like to record their funeral wishes also. Living well and dying well can be fun as well as serious. As you can imagine Palliative Care's theme 'Death by Chocolate' - was very well received. Do look at www.dyingmatters.org - for more information and advice.
It was the 'living well and dying well can be fun' part which really stuck in the throats of some staff and they told the national press so.
To my mind the whole memo was either appallingly written or deliberately cunning in meaning. The linguistic twists are subtle at first, but become obvious. 'Matters of dying help celebrate life'; '...Dying matters ... encourages us to donate organs'; 'We should make a will and record funeral wishes'; 'Dying well can be fun'. Before you say, "but making a will is sensible", please stay with me as we dig a little deeper and reflect on 'dying is fun', as is 'death by chocolate.'
The deadly Dying Matters memo appeared following an awareness week, but who is Dying Matters?
They are a charity overseeing a coalition of 32,000 members across England and Wales which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. Their members include organisations from across the NHS, voluntary and independent health care sectors, including hospices, care homes, charities supporting old people, children and bereavement; social care and housing, faith and community organisations schools and colleges, academic bodies, trade unions, legal profession and the funeral sector.
Phew - everybody is now talking about death including schools, colleges, children and charities supporting children, but not to worry as death is to be made fun. Well actually something better than that.
The mission of the Dying Matters coalition is to facilitate a 'fundmental change in society in which dying, death and bereavement will be seen and accepted as the natural part of everybody's life cycle.'
So my question is this - who decided that we all needed to be taught about death to make it 'natural'? Why do we suddenly need to discuss dying widely and freely to enjoy life? Those who have seen death, and far too much of it in wars, know only too well that whilst death is real and the dead deserve our love, memories and respect, the darkness of death is best left as a quiet respectful sideline to the beauty of life and living. After all, the major world religions all celebrate life and the giving of life. Satanists, on the other hand, do indeed celebrate death.
Enter The Dark Lord Falconer
Is it a coincidence that Dying Matters nudges the reader by also stating that:
"the lack of openess on death and dying has affected our ability to die where or how we would wish."
This claim seems to fit remarkably well with the new government driven agenda for 'assisted dying' introduced in the 'dark' Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill -
'a bill to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life; and for connected purposes.'
Nice, but just what are "connected purposes"?
I have yet to hear Tony Blair's old friend Lord Falconer stand up for the lives of unborn children. Could it be that he is bigger on death than life, or was he motivated to do good works for death as part of the 2008 Government End of Life Care Strategy for England?
Consider that the Guardian reported in September 2015:
In the Netherlands assisted suicide in legal and not just for those with terminal illnesses. At one clinic in the Hague, anyone with 'unbearable suffering' can be given the relief they seek.
Significantly the Guardian added that a 70 year old man, surrounded by his family, is pictured being administered euthenasia medication. What is his 'unbearable suffering?' Borderline dementia. Not itself terminal, but we are told in this case the man had decided he did not want to 'go there.' Is this a precedence, we wonder, for assisted dying to become assisted suicide in Britain?
As the number of assisted deaths climbs to over 5,000 people in the Netherlands, the deceased also now include a 20 year old sexual abuse survivor who could no longer deal with her post traumatic stress. It would seem that the assisted dying net in Holland is being case very wide indeed.
David Cameron Calls For More Dementia
Over recent months British Prime Minister David Cameron has jumped on the dementia bandwagon with his 'Prime Minster's Challenge on Dementia 2020' implementation plan. Aside from warning that we are all at increasing risk of dementia, the government now enthusiastically informs us that it expects some 2 million people to be diagnosed with dementia by 2050. As doctors are encouraged to up their dementia diagnoses targets to meet the designated 2m figure (yes really), the nation is to prepare the ground with dementia friendly cities, towns and villages.
Are all these 2 million people to be 'encouraged' by the State to accept assisted dying? If so we seem to be heading into a national policital doctrine of eschatology - a doctrine of death.
In Scotland a similar palliative agenda was published in 2008 under the title 'Living and Dying Well.' This was followed in 2011 by 'Living and Dying Well: Building on Progress.' Using a number of 'Short Life Working Groups', these SLWGs analysed and made recommendations on palliative and end of life care.
The overall Vision set out was:
As with the end of life agenda south of the border, the Scottish programme clearly targeted the wider public and local communities with the objective of making discussion of death commonplace. Moreover, children are to grow up steeped in the inevitability of death.
Is it just me or is there something unpalitable here? Shouldn't our children be brought up to live life to the full, understanding love and compassion for their family, friends and fellow human beings? Why should young children be encouraged to talk about death and its inevitability?
Whilst the charity Dying Matters has helped set up a collaborative palliative and end of life care network in England, Good Life Good Death Good Grief has been spawned in Scotland, with some 800 members across the same spectrum of NHS, profit making and charitable establishments and organisations. Nestled amongst them is the Humanist Society.
Liverpool Care Pathway And Staffordshire Deaths
These palliative and end of life political agendas would have us believe that our goverment is determined to ensure we all have access to high quality palliative and end of life care. If this agenda was built upon an existing high quality health care standard across the country, especially for elderly people, we might be reassured. Yet the opposite is true. Over recent years the NHS in particular has rushed to install the Liverpool Care Pathway - accused by professionals and public alike of being a pathway to hasten death and cut NHS costs. In addition the NHS has demonstrated frightening failures in care of the elderly, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of deaths (yes tens of thousands) in the Staffordshire Hospital debacle, and at least ten other hospitals - according to information now reaching the UKColumn.
But the NHS is not alone in its track record of neglect and death. Care Homes and Nursing Homes are also implicated in death pathways, usually facilitated by dehydration to assist mental confusion, and thus allow the prescription of a cocktail of drugs for dementia, and starvation to speed the end.
Alongside the thousands of NHS deaths also come some alarming changes in the public system which monitors death and ensures foul play is not involved. Coronors were previously scrupulously independent and were served by independent staff. Not now. Many NHS Trusts have the Coronor sitting in offices adjacent to their executive management teams. What's more, their staff are increasing composed of ex-police, who seem to be rather too cosy with the NHS networks, and indeed Local Authorities.
Evidence circulating in Plymouth relating to the untimely death of a middle aged lady at the hands of both the NHS and Care Community included no less that three death certificates for the same person. Surprisingly the Coronor seems unaware or unconcerned, and local police are aggressive to questions that Social Services seem to be attempting to take her husband into care, and well, to simply take their house to presumably pay for his 'care'.
Wealth Creation And Ash For Cash
Couple this situation with the rise of wealth creation and profit in the care system. In 'ash for cash', doctors are now receiving payments of approximately £85 for signing death certificates with a priority for cremation. The very cremation which always ties up so many ends so neatly - evidence of foul play in particular. Bring in the pivate cremation companies that now offer 'bed to ash' services - collection, certificates, formalities and cremation - with or without any involvement of next of kin or friends, and end of life disposal has become very neat, tidy and profitable.
Against this background of failure and suspect death pathways, and with governments that fail us so badly during life, can we trust the government to organise our end of life care at any stage?
I think not. The evidence I see leads me to suspect that whilst eating our chocolate, we should consider that Britain's government driven death cult does not have our best interests and long lives at heart. Increasingly it appears they want a far tidier and more cost effective solution to those individuals who are no longer able to generate corporate profit.