Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Pathway 'not for hastening death'

The Liverpool Care Pathway recommends that in some circumstances doctors withdraw treatment, food and water from sedated patients

The controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was "never about hastening death", the co-creator of the end-of-life regime has insisted.

Palliative care nurse Deborah Murphy, who helped develop the care "pathway" for terminally-ill patients in the 1990s, said the real purpose for the LCP was to make dying patients "as comfortable as possible".

She has slammed the "media-driven" decision to scrap it.

While she admitted that she was shocked by some of the patients' stories highlighted in a recent review of the regime, she told the Nursing Standard: "It was never about hastening death or postponing death or about withdrawing treatment - these were myths."

The real purpose of the LCP - which recommends that in some circumstances doctors withdraw treatment, food and water from sedated patients in their final hours or days - was about "planning care in advance so dying patients can be made as comfortable as possible," she added.

"But a plan like that is only as good as the people using it."

Last week, health officials ordered a complete overhaul of care for terminally-ill patients after the independent review concluded that doctors have used the LCP ''as an excuse for poor-quality care''.

They said that the LCP should be scrapped and replaced with a personalised end-of-life care plan for each individual patient.

The independent review highlighted ''distressing'' implementation of the regime. The review panel, chaired by crossbench peer Baroness Julia Neuberger, said they were ''shocked'' and ''upset'' at some of the cases of appalling care of patients put on the regime.

Patients were left on the pathway for weeks without any review and some patients' families were even shouted at by nurses for giving them water, she said.

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