The Daily Telegraph
Palliative care limits
SIR – In response to Baroness Greythompson and her co-signatories (“Palliative care access”, Letters, February 24), I am the first to agree that my sister’s death coloured my views on assisted dying; indeed, it changed my mind completely.
It did so because it proved that it is a myth that excellent palliative care – which my sister received – can alleviate all suffering. The propagation of this myth does a grave disservice to those in Britain dying of terminal illness, who will continue to suffer unnecessarily until the law on assisted dying is changed.
SIR – Dr Steven R Hopkins (Letters, February 27) discusses care-home patients who are prescribed lifeprolonging drugs without any regard for their quality of life.
My mother suffered from dementia but was physically quite strong. For a long time she was unable to recognise me and was losing her powers of speech; but if she had an infection she was given antibiotics or, as once happened, sent to hospital, which was a very confusing experience for her.
Eventually I managed to speak to her doctor, who told me to write to her care home requesting that she should not receive treatment if she became unwell. This I did, arguing that her life was being extended even though its quality was poor – but it felt like writing a death sentence. A short time after, she passed away peacefully.
I dread ending my life as she did, and would hope to have a choice. But with dementia, how is that possible?
M A Midgley