When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
East Lancashire patients are being put on 'death lists'
11:00am Saturday 20th October 2012 in News
PATIENTS in East Lancashire are being put on ‘death lists’ by their GPs.
As part of a campaign by the Department of Health, doctors have been instructed to draw up a list of patients they believe are likely to die within a year, and who should be helped to do so in comfort.
Known as End of Life Care Registers, the documents will involve information such as where the patient would prefer to die, and telling them that they can have a ‘living will’, by which they can instruct doctors to withdraw life-saving treatment if they become incapacitated in hospital.
More than 7,000 patients nationwide have already been put on the list, but there is no obligation for doctors to inform them, though health bosses in East Lancashire say they always ask for consent.
NHS East Lancashire, the Primary Care Trust (PCT) for Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, said it does not collate the number of GPs using an end of care pathway or the number of patients on one.
Dr Mike Ions, chief clinical officer at East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Providing treatment and care towards the end of life will often involve decisions that are clinically complex and emotionally distressing; and some decisions may involve ethical dilemmas and uncertainties about the law that further complicate the decision-making process.
“We are encouraged to use end of care pathways, but they are only used with the full and informed consent of the individual and normally the family.
“Having an end of care pathway in place means we want our patients last few weeks of life to be as dignified as possible.”
Blackburn with Darwen PCT were also unable to give specific numbers of patients on the list.
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer said: “People who are approaching the end of their lives should be treated with dignity and respect.
“That their passing is as peaceful and as pain free as possible is our number one priority.
“Our GPs follow stringent guidelines when taking these decisions in which families and the individuals are consulted and kept fully informed at all times.
“GPs do not and would not wish to take these decisions alone. This is about making an extremely difficult time less traumatic for patients and their families.”