The Real Problem With Nationalized Healthcare
Rachel Darnall

Cases make bad laws and in this case a very partial and biased argument. Great Ormond Street Hospital is world famous in its care and protection of children. It is unfair to reduce its opinion on Charles to one of state funding. There are significant numbers of children there sustained over years on external mechanical hearts, pending hopeful transplants. It will involve highly expensive nursing and periods in intensive care. Doctors there are fully prepared to die in a ditch fighting for individual children. Do you honestly believe private insurance can sustain this kind of specialist long term care? I think that this is exactly the kind of cover currently being withdrawn from millions of Americans.

I don’t now and never have worked for the health service, but I do treasure it. In my view the Government should have a responsibility for the health of its people. It should also have a mechanism to examine how that responsibility is delivered or not to individuals. And the UK does. There are specialist courts in cases affecting children. They have a statutory duty to place any child’s welfare at the heart of their decisions. Finance is never allowed to be the determining factor, whether it is too much or too little money. I know this from a good deal of personal experience in giving expert opinion on family cases. Courts do order the state to provide extremely expensive treatment and support for children from birth up to 25 years old. Whenever possible this is done in partnership with parents.

In Charlie’s case, the experts sincerely believe that he has no discernible quality of life and that the chance of ever having it is vanishingly small. Instead he suffers continual highly intrusive medical intervention. This preserves his beating heart. He evidently shows some automatic reflexes, which the parents in their undoubted misery, believe are hopeful signs. It may be at some future time genetic research will provide a miracle cure that can replace mitochondria, but that time is not now to the best of the experts knowledge. In the meantime his parents have bonded with his poor little body. They are clearly in anguish and deserve sympathy. However their feelings are not primary to the courts concerns. The welfare of the child takes precedence. The parents wishes and feelings can only be secondary to the child. And that includes the highest courts in the U.K. and Europe.

I know there will be thousands of documents submitted by all parties to the courts. Experts and counter experts, medical, psychological and social will have given honest opinions, that the courts have balanced in their judgement. Our courts are not divided along party political lines as the US Supreme Court is. There is no way that they would treat the death of a child as a negligible outcome of our Government’s austerity policy.

I realise that the David and Goliath story of the parents’ fight is more emotionally appealing, than mine. But your’s goes on with many assumptions to absolve your Executive and state Governments of any responsibility for the protection and welfare promotion of children. Before making this case a touchstone for public policy, get all the information. It’s harder that way but baby Charlie deserves it.

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