by Soeren Kern, GATESTONE INSTITUTE • April 11, 2020 at 5:00 am
- In addition to the ethical questions raised by the rationing of healthcare according to age, the denial of medical attention to the elderly, many of whom have paid into the social welfare system all their lives, also casts a spotlight on the shortcomings of socialized medicine in Southern Europe, where austerity measures imposed by the European Central Bank have resulted in massive budget cuts for public healthcare.
- In documents leaked to several Spanish media, the Catalan Emergency Medical Service (Servicio de Emergencias Médicas) instructed doctors, nurses and ambulance personnel to inform the families of older patients suffering from coronavirus that “death at home is the best option.” … The protocol also advised medical personnel to avoid referring to the lack of hospital beds in Catalonia.
- “My father started working at the age of 14 until he was 65. He never asked for anything. On March 18, he needed a respirator to avoid dying and was denied…. This is the Spain we have. My father’s generation built this country, its reservoirs, roads, agriculture, working 14 hours a day, coming out of a postwar period. And they are being left to die.” — Óscar Haro, YouTube video, March 20, 2020.
- In November 2019, two months before the coronavirus first appeared in Spain, the Spanish government revealed that nearly 700,000 patients were on a waiting list for surgeries. Nationwide, patients had to wait on average 115 days to receive surgery; in Catalonia, patients had to wait nearly six months; in Madrid patients had to wait for six weeks.
- The severity of the coronavirus crisis in Italy and Spain, where elderly patients are being allowed to die for the benefit of the young, is due in large measure to the austerity measures associated with their membership in the eurozone. The large numbers of dead, especially among the elderly, appears to be the price that Italians and Spaniards are paying to be part of a monetary union which they never should have joined.
New protocols, being issued by medical authorities in European regions most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, instruct medical personnel effectively to abandon elderly patients to their fate. Pictured: A pre-triage medical tent is set up in front of Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, Italy on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Bressan/AFP via Getty Images)<
With well over a half-million confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Europe, a growing number of regional medical authorities have begun issuing guidelines and protocols that call for hospitals to prioritize younger patients over those who are older.
In Italy and Spain, the two countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, doctors in overwhelmed intensive care units have for weeks been making life or death decisions about who receives emergency treatment. The new protocols, however, amount to government directives that instruct medical personnel effectively to abandon elderly patients to their fate.