Wednesday, November 7, 2012

UK drafting new policies on end-of-life care and single-sex wards

The United Kingdom is revising the NHS (National Health Service) constitution to give more choice to patients and ensure that their wishes come first.  Here are some of the new policies under consideration:
Rules on involving patients and families in treatment decisions are being strengthened following an outcry over the secretive use of the Liverpool Care Pathway which involves withdrawal of fluids and food.  Under the measures being put forward for consultation, health trusts that fail to discuss issues properly could be sued. Doctors who ignore the wishes of patients and relatives face being struck off.

For the first time, a policy on single sex wards would be included in the constitution. It would pledge that those admitted to a hospital "will not have to share sleeping accommodation with patients of the opposite sex."  And, as the UN moves toward defining the Human Rights of Older Persons, it's important for aging advocates to learn what improvements the British Government is considering, such as: 
• A new right for patients to receive acknowledgement, an explanation and apology where mistakes have been made;
• A commitment that complaints will be acknowledged within three working days, and tougher rules on handling them;
A warning that abusive and violent patients could be denied access to National Health Service programs, if it is "safe" to do so;
The current Health Minister is committed to maintain the NHS.  Health minister Norman Lamb said the government was determined to protect the founding principles of the health service. "The NHS is "one of this country's greatest achievements. This government will always make sure it is free to all, no matter your age or the size of your bank balance," he said.   "That's why at the same time as we are protecting its budget, we are strengthening this constitution, which enshrines the right of everyone to have first class care, now and in the future."

Dear Reader, Is health care free in your country?   If so, is it quality care?  In my country, the US, health care can be very costly for persons of all ages and sometimes falls short of good care.  US Medicare helps but often does not underwrite the entire cost of care.  What is happening in your country?  Do you believe that you have a human right to health care?  Give us your comments.
Best wishes, Susanne Paul at Global Action on Aging

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