The National Health Service ‘Tortured’ Her Son, She Claims

Proponents of Medicare for all often hold up Britain’s NHS as an example for a single-payer system, but one mother’s anguish may give pause.

Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18-year-old with learning disabilities, died while under care at a specialist unit run by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). His mother, Sarah Ryan, writing in the Guardian, defends her label for Connor’s treatment: torture.

“I’m now left with a raw clarity,” writes Ryan. “As I type these words, I believe children and adults are experiencing state-sanctioned torture in settings across the U.K.”

Specifically, Ryan decries the segregation of some patients deemed difficult to deal with from the rest of the patient population. They’re are often “stuck” in the segregated areas for months or even years.

Further, Ryan believes that patients with mental health problems should be weaned back into society, arguing that inpatient NHS units for patients with learning disabilities are “much more expensive than community-based support, which can enable people to lead more independent and flourishing lives.”

Ryan notes that Connor was wrestled to the ground and detained not too long after being admitted. He was terrified. Ryan writes that “NHS commissioners who are funding these places are clearly paying little attention to the standards of ‘care’ provided, including whether staff are actually trained.”