6th April 2020

I learned today that the BMA have issued guidance to doctors in how to handle rationing of care. Its a terrible thought. But inevitably there is going to be a time when doctors have to choose between patients, or consider the chances of meaningful survival of a patient. The BMA says its ethical and legal to prioritise patients if there are shortages of equipment, and that they must consider the future prospects of the patient and do whats in their best interests.

Naively one might think that means ‘saving their life’ but the BMA point out that for example its often not in a patient’s best interest to carry out invasive surgery or irradiate their brain, even though they’ll otherwise die, because the treatment is not a cure and they’ll die anyway within the same timeframe.

So the upshot is that people with pre-existing conditions such as lung disease, circulatory problems, cancer – and yes, old age – may be given palliative care only, saving ventilators and so on to save the lifes of the healthier.

Thats a truly grim thought.

Update 23:00 – we just heard that the PM is now in intensive care on oxygen. Here’s hoping for his family’s sake that he pulls through, but lets also hope he appreciates the irony of a man whose recent career has been based on running down the NHS and trying to sell it off, now being reliant on the nurses whose pay rise he refused to support, while awarding himself an above-inflation 3.1%. 

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