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Lord Sumption expands on his cancer patients lives are 'less valuable' comments

Yesterday on TV Lord Sumption caused huge controversy by saying a stage 4 cancer patients' life was "less valuable" than others.

He joined GMB today to expand on his comments and explain what he meant.

Lord Sumption discussed Covid and the controversy over his comments on stage 4 cancer patient Deborah James, he said: “One of the problems is that we were talking across each other… I was certainly not making any comments about her or her own health position. I was making a perfectly simple point as the context quite clearly shows. Every policy maker has got to make difficult choices and sometimes that involves putting a value on human life.

"It’s a standard concept in health economics. Quality adjusted life years. That’s what I was talking about. Policy makers have to do that because otherwise they cannot weigh up the consequences of different policy choices. It does not mean that people are morally worth less, or worth less in the eyes of God or in the eyes of their fellow citizens, but sometimes policy makers have to say some lives are worth less than simply because they cannot…”

He concluded: “Listen, I was not intending to make any comment on Deborah James‘ personal position. I have made it perfectly clear to her since, we have had a friendly exchange on the point. I regard this matter as closed. I am not going to say any more on this subject."

Piers Morgan challenged Lord Sumption that Sir Captain Tom Moore added real value to his life a year after being in hospital with major fractures and signing a Do Not Resuscitate waver at the age of 98.

Piers put it to Lord Sumption that by his approach there would be little value left for Captain Tom but in reality he gave the country and the public so much during the pandemic.

On arguing that if the choice was between saving a 98-year-old and a 25-year-old with limited resource then it would have to be the 25-year-old because of the 'quality of life' ahead, Sumption said: "This is a tool for policy makers. It's not a way of valuing individuals.

On Covid, he added: “The government is in the process of turning a public health disaster into a social, economic and educational disaster.” Speaking about the younger generations, he went on: “Eventually we will get over Covid, but these people will be living with the consequences of the economic destruction visited on our society for years and years and years.”

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