As hospitals around the world contend with the global coronavirus pandemic, some are facing pressing ethical conflicts.
In Italy, beleaguered doctors have been faced with the task of determining which of their masses of patients will receive lifesaving care and which could be deprived of treatment.
In the United Kingdom, which has not been hit quite so hard as its southern European neighbor at this point, one health expert is committed to looking on the “bright side” of a pandemic.
According to the Daily Mail, Professor June Andrews, a former Scottish government official, made this controversial statement in a meeting with Holyrood’s public audit committee earlier this month.
While she admitted that her optimism regarding the death of what Ebenezer Scrooge might call “the surplus population” sounded “horrific,” Andrews insisted that it was an honest assessment of the consequences of a coronavirus pandemic.
“If you’re on the board of a care home company, a pandemic is one of things you think about as a potential damage to your business because of the number of older people it’s going to take out of the system,” she said.
“Curiously, ripping off the sticking plaster, in a hospital that has 92 delayed discharges, a pandemic would be quite useful because your hospital would work because these people would be taken out of the system.”
Professor June Andrews says a pandemic would make things easier. pic.twitter.com/b0XWDnITSs
— PaulWal 🏴🇬🇧🇵🇱🇮🇹 MCFC (@PaulWal80) March 7, 2020
For her part, Andrews has since claimed that her statements were taken out of context and that her point was to blame politicians for policies that essentially left the elderly stuck in hospitals because there were not enough social care services for them to be discharged to.
According to Nursing Standard, the focus of Andrews’ statement was that more social services were needed to safely get elderly people out of hospitals and that “this mess is only going to increase unless something radical is done.”
“Most of what I said at the meeting was that the politicians should stop blaming NHS managers for failing, because their task is impossible,” Andrews said. “So someone took the phrases and presented me to the world as advocating ethnic cleansing of the elderly.”
If Andrews indeed meant that the deaths of untold numbers of elderly hospital patients would be “useful” or in any way a net positive, it just goes to show how much the secular world values human life.
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