News that Liverpool Care Pathway is to be scrapped welcomed

Graham Bennett with a photo of his mother Gladys.
Graham Bennett with a photo of his mother Gladys.

News that the controversial end of life care plan, the Liverpool Care Pathway, is to be scrapped, has been welcomed by relatives of people who died while on the plan at King’s Mill Hospital.

Earlier this year, Chad reported on some of the awful experiences that patients and their families have had after being put on the LCP.

Now an independent review published by the Government on Monday has recommended that the pathway should be ‘phased out and replaced by an individual end of life care plan’.

Barbara Dickens, whose husband Barry was put on the LCP without her knowledge, said she ‘really rejoiced’ when she heard the news.

“I think it should be stopped - I think it’s cruel,” said Barbara (67), of Sherwood Street, Newton. “I don’t think it should have been put in place anyway.”

Barry was suffering from lung cancer and had gone downhill suddenly when he went into hospital in June 2012, dying just a few days after being admitted and put on the LCP.

Barbara added: “They said it helps make the process of dying easier and more comfortable.

“I thought, ‘how can that be when you take away his oxygen, his pills and painkillers and food?’”

The review into the LCP was commissioned by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb because of serious concerns that patients were wrongly being denied nutrition and hydration while on the pathway.

It was carried out by senior Rabbi and crossbench peer, Baroness Julia Neuberger, who said that the review ‘has revealed too many serious cases of unacceptable care where the LCP has been incorrectly implemented’.

She said that examples detailed patients being left without adequate nutrition, hydration and sedation.

“This is not only awful for the patients, but it is deeply distressing to their relatives and carers,” she said.

“Caring for the dying must never again be practised as a tick box exercise, and each patient must be cared for according to their individual needs and preferences, with those of their relatives and carers being considered too.”

Kate Bell, of Worcester Avenue, Mansfield Woodhouse, and her three sisters, were devastated to learn that their mum Janet Hayes had been put on the LCP. They only found out when they read her medical notes following her death last July, aged 88.

Kate said that not being told that her mum was on the LCP had been very upsetting.

“It’s got to be what everyone thinks is right - the whole family, not just what the doctor thinks,” she said.

“I still feel that the Liverpool Pathway helps some people but not very many.

“When it first started out it was right, but it became abused and was about freeing beds up.

“I am glad it’s gone but want to know what’s going in its place.”

The review panel also recognised that when applied correctly the LCP does help patients have a dignified and pain-free death in cases where clinicians consider they are in the last hours or days of life.

However the panel found too many cases of it being used when patients’ individual needs had not been taken into account.

It has made 44 recommendations to improve the quality of care for the dying, including replacing the LCP.

Graham Bennett, of Archers Drive, Bilsthorpe, told Chad in April that when his mum Gladys was put on the LCP, he felt like he had ‘signed her death warrant’ and he subsequently took part in the review by sharing his experience.

He said that the pathway was too severe and he was very pleased it was being phased out.

“I wash it was earlier than in six to 12 months,” he said.

“It was very distressing for me to see my mum on that pathway.”