This comment started as a reply to Mark Chatburn’s thoughtful article. However, there are other dimensions that need to be aired.


This is a most disturbing case on many levels.


The European Arrest Warrant, in itself an unnecessary and invasive piece of legislation, was ‘sold’ to the public for it’s ‘importance’ in curbing terrorism and bringing international and dangerous criminals to book. Yet even in it’s infancy it has been wholly misused to arrest people who have committed no crime and have no charges to answer. This has even exceeded my own initial fears that we all were at risk of being dragged out of our beds and hauled off to the cells in the middle of the night to answer a parking offence allegation possibly committed somewhere in Europe. This, of course can and will still happen.


With arrests made possible by whim and not evidence we have, at a stroke, surrendered one of our most hard won freedoms, that of justice.


According to Hibbert in his book ‘The French Revolution’, “in June 1794 the Committee of Public Safety passed a decree greatly increasing the numbers of those who could be regarded as public enemies and expedited the process by which they could be condemned to death.” Defence lawyers were dispensed with and witnesses, including the accused weren’t called. All that was needed to cause the guillotine to fall once again was an accusation, thus also dispensing with the tiresome need for evidence or a contested trial.


Do you see any similarities? One ignorant but powerful policeman can, by virtue of his opinion, arrest anyone without just cause. Fortunately the European arrest warrant will be one of the many European infringements on freedom and justice to be dumped under an independent UK. Before this happens though expect more of the same.

The second nasty bit in this whole affair is the face value acceptance of a doctor’s opinion and the suffering it may cause a patient even when a ‘cure’ cannot be the expected outcome.


We live in a world where medical care is tightly managed by the vested interests and where only the party line is to be followed. This poor child wasn’t being taken away from a cure but from yet more invasive and carcinogenic interference with little hope of any eventual release from his condition but with a likely and severe deterioration in the quality of life he has left.


One might well argue that a profession that doesn’t know what causes cancer and has no cure for it might not be the most reliable source of advice when alternatives exist. One has to also consider that in such cases any advised treatment perhaps ought to solely be based upon the welfare of the patient and any furtherance of clinical understanding should not be a factor but that assessment is rarely if ever made in an open environment. It is not as if it hasn’t happened before.


‘The rise and fall of modern medicine’ by James le Fanu, comments upon the following issues. [Maurice Papperworth’s book ‘Human Guinea Pigs’ published in 1967 highlighted the ongoing conundrum between experimentation, to enable further understanding of the condition, and the welfare of the patient.


Even with the scepticism of his colleagues, Dr. Donald Pinkel of St Judes Hospital in Memphis continued with a highly toxic regime on children with leukaemia that offered little hope of a cure but was weighted much more toward research. The torture these children suffered was extreme and condemned them to a horribly slow and painful death. “Prior to the introduction of this particular regime in 1967, a survey of nearly 1000 children treated over the past two decades found that only two survived” (for more than 5 years) “and one of those subsequently relapsed and died”.]


The parents may well have been unaware of the true nature of the treatment.


Another complication is that then and now survival was and is measured inappropriately. Last for five years and you’re considered cured for the purposes of the statistics, even if you die from cancer the day after.


One has to conclude that ‘recommended’ treatment may not always be in the patient’s best interests but the clinician’s. There is much to be gained by adding one’s name to ‘medical breakthroughs’. As doctors are also people one has to assume that ambition and recognition weigh as heavily in their lives as they do for the rest of us.


It simply isn’t enough to just take a doctor’s word even if it is supported by his close colleagues. After all people who spend their lives in this closed and rigorously protected profession are likely to think along the same lines. A broader assessment needs to be made and pertinent questions asked. The eventual decision on what might be the best course of action has to be independent of the clinicians and other parties with vested interests. Obviously that’s not really the domain of Mr. Plod.


It’s a salutary thought that just over 100 years ago about 1 in 8000 people got cancer yet today that figure is more like 1 in 3 despite the billions spent in trying to find a chemical solution.


That doesn’t sound like an unqualified success story to me.

Photo by DES Daughter

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