Probe into use of ‘death pathway’ by NHS
The NHS is coordinating a probe into the Liverpool Care Pathway after concerns were raised over its misuse.
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By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
2:37PM BST 26 Oct 2012
Several national organisations, coordinated by the National End of Life Care Programme, will look at the way to controversial ‘death pathway’ is being delivered in practice.
Families have come forward saying they were not consulted when their loved ones were placed on the pathway, which aims to provide comfort during the final days and hours by avoiding unnecessary medical procedures.
They have warned that dying patients have been denied food and drink and placed on the pathway when they were not dying.
Leading doctors have also warned that the pathway is being used to ‘hasten death’ and is based on ‘guesswork’.
Now the NHS will lead a series of project to talk to family members of those who have died on the pathway, look into complaints and talk to clinicians delivering the care.
Experts said ‘poor experiences must be explored, acknowledged and learnt from.’
The probe is not expected to report back until the New Year.
The National End of Life Care Programme, an NHS organisation, will look at a snapshot of complaints made to hospital trusts about care of the dying, particularly examining communication issues between staff and patients and family.
Dying Matters, a coalition of organisations including hospices that are involved with care of the dying, will talk to family members of people cared for on the Liverpool Care Pathway to establish what worked well and what could have been done better.
And as the Daily Telegraph reported earlier this week, The Association for Palliative Medicine and a range of national organisations, will talk to doctors and nurses using the LCP about its use.
Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, said: “Everyone wants to see appropriate care and support offered to dying people in their final days and hours. To do this we need to know how patients and families feel about the care they receive. And we need to make sure that health professionals have the best tools to help them with this sensitive work.
“I am pleased that expert groups are looking at this. The Association for Palliative Medicine, Dying Matters and the National End of Life Care Programme are well placed to work with their partners to look at whether improvements can be made, and we will support them as necessary.”
Claire Henry, director of the National End of Life Care Programme, said: “We know from the national survey of bereaved people, published in July, that 75 per cent of people rate the end of life care their loved one received as ‘good’, ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding’. However, we also know that there are improvements to be made so that every person receives the same high quality of care at the end of their life.
“I’m pleased that these projects will listen carefully to the experiences of members of the public and of professionals. This is crucial if we are to continue improving the care of dying people in our society.”
Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chair of the Dying Matters Coalition, said: “It’s vital that everyone receives good quality care at the end of life and that this is informed and driven by evidence and people’s personal experience.
“The Liverpool Care Pathway has enabled thousands of people to die well according to their wishes, but poor experiences must be explored, acknowledged and learnt from.”
Dr Bee Wee, President of the Association for Palliative Medicine, said: “We know that there are some concerns amongst the public and some professionals about integrated care pathways.
“We want to take time to identify and explore any concerns properly, look at the evidence and find ways to improve practice.”