Commentating on the publication of the independent report into Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), DHI Chairman Luca Volontè stated: “I am most encouraged by the recommendations of the report, namely to abolish Liverpool Care Pathway. Whilst there may have been good intentions behind the formation of the practice, the disturbing reality has been one of patient neglect, unnecessary suffering as well as a shameful lack of support and information for the families of patients.”
Speaking on behalf of the British Parliament’s Cross-Party Working Group on Human Dignity, Jim Dobbin MP, its vice-chairman, also welcomed the departure from LCP: “The report confirms what many have been long aware of; the application of Liverpool Care Pathway has comprehensively failed many of our patients. It is right that we admit to this and subsequently abolish it. We must now devote our united efforts to tailoring personalised care for every patient, and at the core of this improved practice must be the recognition of the infinite value of each individual person and promotion of their indelible human dignity.”
The independent report comes after months of repeated cases in the media of patients who were condemned to this ‘pathway to death’ without the knowledge or consent of their families, indeed the Royal College of Physicians estimated that up to half of families were not informed. Under the provisions of the pathway, doctors could arbitrarily withhold palliative care, nutrients and medicine from patients they deemed close to dying. This in spite of assertions from health groups claiming that it is impossible to accurately predict an imminent death, indeed there are many cases of those on LCP living for weeks and even months after the withdrawal of care.
In the last two years, the NHS has seen the number of those placed on LCP double, with voices from within healthcare admitting it was used as a way of clearing wards of those judged as burdens. The report notes several cases of medical staff censuring family members for attempting to give their loved ones access to water – with severe dehydration being found as a common consequence of LCP. In its conclusion the report recommends a rejection of the one-size-fits-all approach in favour of more personalised treatment plans.