Friday, 21 September 2007

From The SPUC : Something to Seriously Consider...

Statement of Medical Care Principles

These help you to tell healthcare workers about the standards of medical practice you expect to receive.

The principles

Those responsible for administering medical care should pursue the following objectives:

[i]Sustaining life

[ii]Restoring health where possible

[iii]Preventing deterioration in health and alleviating suffering.

[iv]Quality of life assessments should not be used to determine that the individual is no longer entitled to due respect, care and treatment.

What the principles mean in practice

The following points are to guide those who are involved in caring for patients. They may be updated from time to time.

[i]Every patient is to be respected as a human being with inherent human rights, especially the right to life and respect for intrinsic dignity.

[ii]Every patient is entitled to receive all appropriate medical and nursing care.

[iii]The provision of food and fluids, even when artificially delivered, is ordinary care to which each patient is entitled for so long as he or she is able to assimilate it.
[iv]Medical treatment for everyone is to be applied for as long as it is appropriate in dealing with the patient's condition.

[v] All care and treatment should be given in accordance with the established medical ethical teachings of the Hippocratic tradition, in harmony with the religious tradition of the patient.

[vi]No decision to withhold or withdraw treatment should be made with the intention of bringing about the death of the patient.

The Patients First Network Service

What does this service offer me?

Patients First Network

Patients First Network (PFN) helps you to let doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers know how you expect to be treated in hospital if you are mentally incapacitated. PFN fights against euthanasia.
If you join the Network, we give you a card and a medallion which alert medical staff, along with your family and carers, that you wish to receive appropriate medical treatment and care. Nothing should be done deliberately to end your life, nor should your health care team withdraw treatment with the deliberate intention of causing your death. The PFN's statement of Medical Care Principles is here.
You will also have the support of a confidential telephone service which can advise you and your family on end-of-life issues.
Why do I need this service?

Changes in medical guidelines and in law (The Mental Capacity Act 2005), mean that patients may be at risk from decisions to stop giving them food and fluids or to stop giving them medical and nursing care.

Joining the Patients First Network doesn't mean that you are asking doctors to keep you alive for ever. It doesn't mean that medical treatment should never be withdrawn. Treatment can be withdrawn which is of no benefit (which is not helping to sustain life, reduce suffering or improve health). Treatment which is intolerable can be withdrawn. While you remain able to make decisions and communicate with the doctors, they must always consult you and obtain your consent to treat you.

Who is this service for?

Patients First Network is available to anyone over the age of 16. It is particularly important if you are likely to need serious medical treatment in the near future and may be mentally incapacitated and therefore unable to communicate with doctors or give consent for treatment. This may arise in conditions affecting the mind (a brain injury or Alzheimer's for instance) or mental incapacity following a stroke or an accident.
In these situations when you lose 'capacity' to make decisions other people have to make decisions about what treatment you should have.
If you are caring for a vulnerable person we encourage you to join so that we can support you if difficulties arise at the end of life for the person you look after.

How do I join?
Details of membership are here.

Telephone Support Service

0800 1691719

This is a confidential telephone support service.
We offer a first point of contact for relatives and friends of patients in hospital who may be in danger of euthanasia by neglect. A sympathetic listener is always there if you need someone to talk to about your fears and concerns for someone you love.
We are available to take calls from hospital staff to confirm the wishes of any member of the Network who is in a critical state in hospital.
A growing team of Patients First Network volunteers is there to support a vulnerable person in hospital at critical times, if no next-of-kin is available.
Patients First Network needs the support of its members in order to offer them the help they need. However, the telephone support service is available to anyone.
We urge carers, next-of-kin and friends to call us at the earliest stage possible when a vulnerable person is nearing death and there are any concerns about the situation.
The Patients First Network volunteers who answer calls are trained befrienders.

[with thanks to Richard on]

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