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Investigation Announced Into UK Death-Acceleration Programme

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After months of refusal and prevaricating, a probe has finally been announced into the conduct of Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP); a framework widely criticised by families whose relatives have unknowingly been placed on this ‘pathway to death.’

The Association of Palliative Medicine has ordered the review into the concerns. The National End of Life Care Programme, an NHS affiliate, will coordinate several organisations in the review. While critics welcomed this initial step, the move falls short of the Government Inquiry recently called for by the Reverend Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark.

LCP is a framework used to dictate the withdrawal of palliative care from those who are seen as close to death. This includes the withdrawal of nutrients and medicine from the patient, heavy doses of morphine and consequently dehydration. Such a practice is questioned by the Medical Ethics Alliance, who asserts that any such decision is essentially a prediction, with no conclusive scientific evidence. This is highlighted by the case of Andy Flanagan, whose family revived him, rescued him from LCP and brought him home to live for a further five weeks.

The protestations of the Flanagan family added to the many complaints against LCP. The Royal College of Physicians has uncovered that up to half of families are not informed their loved ones have been placed on LCP. In particular, when Mr Cooper (pictured) discovered his wife had been condemned to LCP without his knowledge, medical staff refused to reverse the decision in spite of his wishes.

It has also been noted that the number of patients placed on LCP has doubled in the past two years. Critics have suggested hospitals are beginning to use LCP as a cost-cutting measure, against patients who are made to feel like a burden to society.

Speaking on behalf of the British Parliament’s Cross-Party Working Group on Human Dignity, Jim Dobbin MP, its Vice-Chairman, asserted the necessity of this investigation: “We would do well to recall the words of Pope John Paul II – ‘A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.’ The practices of Liverpool Care Pathway are surely not the best we can do for the elderly and the dying of our society, there is no dignity in the deaths proscribed here. Such decisions as to the best care must always be made by the loved ones and families of the patient; Liverpool Care Pathway has resoundingly failed on this account and should certainly be investigated for it.”

4 thoughts on “Investigation Announced Into UK Death-Acceleration Programme

  • Avatar
    October 28, 2012 at 10:34 am
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    “In particular, when Mr Cooper (pictured) discovered his wife had been condemned to LCP without his knowledge, medical staff refused to reverse the decision in spite of his wishes.”

    “Critics have suggested hospitals are beginning to use LCP as a cost-cutting measure, against patients who are made to feel like a burden to society.”

    Death by dictat? Is this where we’re at now? Have we become this desperate? Time to pull back and take a long hard look at ourselves and our attitudes to ‘the weak, vulnerable and dying’ in our society…

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  • Avatar
    October 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm
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    My mother was placed on the LCP, an amended version, as used in Wales. Her death was slower than anticipated and very distressful for her and the family. The withdrawal of medication was followed by the withdrawal of fluids and food. Her mouth became very unpleasant and uncomfortable and there was not, at any time, sufficient nursing care. Information about the LCP as used in that hospital was difficult to obtain and I felt my mother was being pushed into dying.
    Her death was not peaceful or dignified and the circumstances of it still haunt me.

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  • Avatar
    October 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm
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    My mother was put on the LCP and died slowly after 10 days. All food, water and medication wa denied. She actually had no food for 12 days in total. Yet they gave her fentynl in a syringe driver and she was unconcious. I will neve forget the angonising struggle that my mum had to die and it haunts me constently. If she was dying, why was she still alive when most people die within 36 hours. We the family are now left wish unanswered questions and what ifs? The hospital starved my mum to death and that is why she dies. Not through a medical problem. I will never forgive them or myself

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  • Avatar
    November 1, 2012 at 10:50 am
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    Haunts me…..exactly the words I would use!!!
    I had the same situation with my own mother, the details being similar to the other comments. I tried to remove my mother off the Pathway as, after such a long time, it was obvious that she was dying of dehydration and not what I had been led to believe.
    I was bluntly refused, being told ‘proudly’ by the young doctor in charge of the ward (with no surname!) that 75% of her ward were on the Pathway and she could legally overule our family wishes any time she liked. After speaking to other families they didn’t even know that there relatives were on the Pathway and some had only gone in with minor complaints. It was like a ‘death ward’. Bring on this review!

    Reply

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