From Mrs Anne Keat RGN
Sir, I write to rebuff the alarming statements made in the letter front Mr Patrick McKay (Jan 21) about the potential lcilling of the disabled. and by implication, the elderly.
After many years nursing and as a sister on a ward in our local community hospital, I have never, ever, experienced his phenomenon and as we also have a physically handicapped son, believe me I would be pretty quick to notice such awful procedures as Mr McKay describes.
You have published several letters lately about Ann Winterton's proposed Bill, and 1 consider it very irresponsible of your letter writers to be so alarmist when as things are at the moment, the examples they hint at would in fact be criminal offences involving the police.
No, Mr McKay, in my mind the much sadder scenario is of elderly patients who just do not want to live any longer so take it upon themselves to refuse all food and medicines, and make it absolutely clear that this is their decision, and we have to respect it. This is usually after the patient has suffered a severe stroke or has a terminal illness and although we can maintain fluid levels by infusions we cannot, and will not, force feed. You could describe this as "withdrawal of treatment" but it is invariably the patients' decision, without a word said. For us, as nurses, it is desperately frustrating, but it happens.
I do not intend to sign, in support, Mrs Winterton's Bill because it does not give a balanced picture.
In the meantime, my colleagues and I will continue to treat and to care for our patients to the very best of our ability.
Yours faithfully, ANNE KEAT