A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a letter for a parent whose young son, a cancer survivor, needed cataract surgery (cataracts having developed as a consequence of his chemotherapy), but the hospital cancelled the surgery when the family indicated they did not wish their son to receive a Covid test.
I have written a number of similar letters for patients wishing to decline Covid tests before - all of which have been successful - but never for a child in such a distressing situation.
Therefore, there are literally no words to describe my disgust and outrage when the family contacted me with the hospital's reply, where they have stated that, if the family does not agree to Covid testing, they will not only withhold the surgery, but will report the case to social services, the clear implication being they will try to have the child taken away.
In their reply, the hospital gives the family barely 24 hours to respond to this despicable ultimatum, therefore obviously leaving them with no realistic timeframe in which to seek formal advice.
Today, the hospital has received this reply:
I am in receipt of your email dated 1st July and time stamped 10:36.
In this correspondence, you state that you are refusing to accept my legal right to decline medical testing for my child, and that you will withhold urgent medical treatment from him as a result.
In an attempt to coerce me into complying, you have threatened to contact children's services if I do not force my son to undergo invasive, unnecessary, and unreliable testing, and have issued a deadline of 12pm today, July 2nd, for me to comply to your demands or you will follow through with your threat.
This represents a level of coercive manipulation that is completely ethically unacceptable, as well as being illegal, and in contravention of the Nuremberg Code. The profession of medicine operates through strict principles of informed consent - not coercion and threats.
Please confirm as a matter of urgency that my son's surgery will go ahead as planned on [date] with no further expectations that he will undergo Covid testing. He is a very young child who has undergone more trauma in his short life than many adults ever do in the entirety of theirs, and so it is imperative that he does not suffer any further unnecessary distress by having this urgent surgery delayed yet again.
I look forward to hearing from you today.