Letters: My mother deserved a better death

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 3 August, 2013

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I read with anger and sorrow of the judgments on the right to die for Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb.

Both my parents have died on the NHS.

I sat by my mother this week, as she struggled with her last breaths.

Both their experiences (and mine) have been ones of fear, loss of dignity and pain throughout the process of dying.

As I have sat with my mother I have seen all around me, in every hospital and nursing home, both loved and forgotten people for whom a dignified, pain-free death is denied by those arrogant enough to think they speak for a nation’s conscience.

When are we – the nation – going to have a detailed, comprehensive and enlightened debate about assisted dying, not only for those who are terminally ill, but those who face death through dementia, frailty and loss of independence in old age.

I am determined, absolutely determined, that I will not die in the manner that my parents have died – pushed from pillar to post by a disjointed, malfunctioning, crippled NHS system, cared for by a family that has become so stressed it cannot cope. It will be forever on my conscience that I have let my parents die like this.

I challenge those who represent “the conscience of the nation” to put aside their private healthcare privileges and spend some time in struggling, under-resourced hospitals and nursing homes, and in the private homes of those families struggling to help those who are dying... and then let’s all have a proper debate and a proper decision – one which allows a person to die in peace, without suffering, as should be possible in our modern world.

Ruth Hair, Midgley, Halifax


Lord Falconer is introducing a bill to enable doctors to participate in assisting terminally ill people to die. This is a step in the right direction, but it is time for much more serious thought to be given to the subject.

Let’s face it, doctors have been assisting patients to die by putting them on the Liverpool Care Pathway, and very unsatisfactory it is. If a pet-owner deprived an animal of food and water in this way, they would be guilty of a serious crime. It would be far better to assist in the dying humanely and medically.

Although I am well and active now, I have no wish to live when the quality of my life deteriorates to nothing, and I think the politicians, doctors and lawyers should give serious consideration to changing the law to allow those who see no future value in their life to have assistance in terminate it.

I have no wish to have my desires inflicted upon other people, but I think that such an option should be available, with adequate safeguards, for those who want it.

I do not understand the attitude of a Government that so savagely cuts social support for the poor being prepared to spend millions on caring for the old and infirm and not at least consider allowing those who wish to be relieved of their misery being assisted to die.

Brian Crews, Beckenham


Lots of good experience  – of rejection

“Must have at least X amount of experience”... a line with which the young people of today are more than familiar.

I am employed, albeit on a lower wage structure than my job role would normally demand. But I have a friend who is an absolute stand-up, hard-working, honest guy – and how he can’t get a job is beyond belief.

The whole corporate structure in this country is a joke. Our Government claims it wants more young people in jobs, encourages people to go to university and lets us think that if we are decent, hard-working people, we will get what we deserve – but it’s rubbish.

It’s a sham and it’s the higher-ups who are to blame, because most of them are so far removed from regular society that they have no idea what it’s like to try to climb the ladder.

I have been there so many times myself in the past and it’s the same old story. You can’t get past the application stage because no matter how skilled you are or how well you feel you could suit the role, it states: “Must have experience.”

I’m sorry, but while others were working and getting great experience in work, we were at university doing what you told us we had to do to get the same role we’re now being told we can’t apply for because we have no experience.

Many companies are afraid of putting faith in younger people; because a piece of paper says they aren’t experienced in a particular role, they don’t get a look-in. A few brave companies do appreciate that what some young people lack in work experience they more than make up for with desire, new relevant ideas and passion.

Steven Ormrod, Oldham


Peace talks are a sham again

The Middle East peace talks have begun again. For those not familiar with the situation, it’s when Israel, with the help of its greatest ally, the US, tries to bully the Palestinians into accepting a fraction of what they’re entitled to by international law.

Since Israel’s creation in 1948 (having been given 56 per cent of Palestinian land by the UN), it went about stealing more land. In 1967, it occupied Gaza and the West Bank, and that continues to this day. Since then, Israel has continued to build settlements in the West Bank and has seized control of scarce water resources.

If you want peace, force Israel to follow international law. Dismantle all settlements, stop the military occupation, end the siege on Gaza, allow the displaced refugees to return and make sure the Palestinians are treated equally.

And perhaps get an impartial mediator. In other words, anyone apart from Britain or the US.

Clive Collins, London SW17


Strip Obama of his award

A Nobel Peace Prize for Bradley Manning (letter, 2 August)? How about making it a dual campaign? Let’s demand an award for Manning, while stripping Barack Obama of his 2009 Peace Prize for his now laughable “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples” – which he apparently thinks is achievable by bugging the peoples of the world.

Dr Gavin Lewis, Manchester


So now freedom is just for whites

Have I lost the plot? Am I a sleeping beauty who has woken up in a different world (“The new stop-and-search: spot checks at stations in hunt for illegal immigrants”, 2 August)?

I thought that we were free to mind our own business and did not have to carry ID or tell officials what we are about unless there is specific cause for them to be suspicious. Is this hard-won freedom now available only to boring white people like me?

This news is outrageous and  as a country we should be ashamed. Every media outlet should be lambasting this behaviour. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Yet in the current system I feel powerless. It is  time to shout out against our “masters”.

Dr Gemma Stockford, Hassocks, West Sussex


Sack them all

In the case of Daniel Pelka, we will be given the same old comment: “a thorough investigation will take place” and then “lessons will be learned”. The comment I would like to see is: all those connected with the failure in this case will be sacked forthwith, without a reference and their pensions forfeited.

That might make sure that, in future, should alarm bells ring about a child, all those involved will pull out all the stops to see exactly what the problem is – before the child is killed, not afterwards.

Joan McTigue, Middlesbrough


Lesser evil?

Here we reward party donors with peerages. In America they do it with embassies. Which is worse?

Robert Davies, London SE3


Be honest, we are corrupt

Are we one of the more corrupt countries in Europe despite our protestations otherwise?

We have a second cash for honours situation. And there are numerous stories of downright deception and lies by police chiefs and politicians.

It’s as if nobody ever wants to hold anyone accountable, because it would mean the end of the cosy relationship between money, legal shenanigans and those with influence.

Is this country simply staying rotten to the core in order to maintain its appalling status quo?

Martin Sandaver, Hay-on-Wye


It’s cars not cats

Rosie Catford thinks there should be a cat curfew to save birds and small animals from being killed (“It’s 10pm: do you know where your cat is?”, 2 August). How about banning car driving after dark? My money’s on roadkill accounting for more birds and mammals than any moggie could manage.

Gary Wiltshire, Bunwell, Norfolk


Don’t blame gulls

Pete Dorey (letter, 1 August) might consider why herring gulls are becoming an urban issue. The depletion of their natural food stocks and man’s landfill sites and litter have led to their increasing presence in towns and cities. Since 1969, the herring gull population has declined by 69 per cent and they are a threatened species.

Christopher Chappell, Somerton, Somerset


Heathrow misery

I agree with April Beynon (letter. 2 August). I have recently flown from and back to Heathrow. On both occasions we took off over 40 minutes late. Not much, but one is instructed to get there two hours before the flights – more, in my case, than the actual flight time. A fourth runway would make things worse.

Michael Lloyd, London N4


Perfect name

As the Home Secretary has announced a licensing authority for private investigators (PIs), no doubt we will have another body to monitor them, to join Ofsted (for education), Ofcom (communications) etc.

It will surely be called Ofpis. And can I suggest some individuals who would be fit to lead it?

Colin Burke, Manchester