Daniel J. Mitchell

excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby.’ …Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice paediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticise the use of death pathways for children. She said: ‘The parents feel coerced, at a very traumatic time, into agreeing that this is correct for their child whom they are told by doctors has only has a few days to live. It is very difficult to predict death. I have seen a “reasonable” number of children recover after being taken off the pathway. …‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die. ‘I witnessed a 14 year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth when doctors refused to give him liquids by tube. His death was agonising for him, and for us nurses to watch. This is euthanasia by the backdoor.’

My first reaction is to hope that this story is wildly wrong, filled with exaggerations and lies.

My second reaction (and this is why I got so agitated) is to imagine what it must be like for the parents. They get talked into letting their kids die, which must be agonizing, and then (assuming they stick around) they have to watch them slowly starve to death or die of thirst. Wouldn’t it be better to just give your kid a fatal injection? Setting aside the moral issue of deciding to let a kid die because he’s disabled or something like that, doesn’t simple decency mean that death should be painless rather than agonizing?

My final reaction is to wonder what Paul Krugman would say about this scandalous neglect and mistreatment. During the Obamacare debate, he told us we could ignore stories about what was happening across the ocean, writing that “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” So I guess starving children don’t qualify as a scare story.

P.S. If you want more horror stories about government-run healthcare in the United Kingdom click here, here, here, here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.


Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.