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East Lancs families flag up concerns about Liverpool Care Pathway
HOSPITAL bosses have defended their use of a controversial ‘end-of-life’ care plan, after figures revealed a massive increase in patients who had died under the regime in East Lancashire.
Around 2,000 patients in East Lancashire had been placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), where in certain circumstances, treatment, food and water is withdrawn from sedated patients in their final days. The system, used across the NHS, has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, and an independent review has now called for it to be abolished.
Dozens of families had flagged up concerns that they were unaware their loved ones had been placed on the Pathway.
While critics claimed doctors had been establishing ‘death lists’ of patients in a bid to cut costs and save bed spaces. Figures obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph through Freedom of Information laws revealed 758 patients died under the LCP at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals in 2012. This compared to 673 in 2011, 374 in 2010 and 39 in 2009.
Hospital chiefs said the pathway was intended to improve care, and helped patients ‘die a peaceful and dignified death’ when used properly.
The national review, headed by Lady Neuberger, found it was not the pathway itself, but poor training and a lack of compassion from nursing staff that was to blame.
She said junior doctors were also expected to make life-and-death decisions beyond their competence after hours and at weekends.
In a statement, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said the pathway was introduced in 2001, along with an education and training programme.
It said: “Nationally, the independent review of the LCP found that there were instances of poor care of dying patients and several recommendations have been made to all organisations to improve the experience of patients and their relatives or carers.
“As part of the recommendations the LCP will now be phased out and end-of-life care guidance will be developed nationally. The other recommendations from the independent review of the LCP will be considered by the trust and an action plan developed.
“The trust has not received any financial incentives linked to the use of the LCP.”
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