Axing of care pathway 'illogical'

The decision to axe the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is "illogical", a senior end-of-life doctor has said.

bb9cc5cc-664c-11e3-bfba-0a0c0223000020131217T172101
Following the Neuberger report, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb ordered hospitals to carry out reviews of care given to dying patients

The decision to axe the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is "illogical", a senior end-of-life doctor has said.

Scrapping the care regime - which recommends the withdrawal of treatment, food and water from some sedated patients in their final hours or days - is a "tragedy", palliative care consultant Claud Regnard said.

He said the LCP was a "scapegoat" and compared the decision to banning the Highway Code because of bad drivers.

In July it was announced that the measure would no longer be used after an independent review concluded doctors had used the LCP "as an excuse for poor-quality care".

The review panel, chaired by crossbench peer Baroness Neuberger, said they were "shocked" and "upset" at some of the "distressing" cases of appalling care.

Patients were left on the pathway for weeks without any review and some patients' families were even shouted at by nurses for giving them water.

In response, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb ordered all NHS hospitals to undertake reviews of care given to dying patients. He also ordered hospital bosses to ensure that in the future every patient has a named senior clinician responsible for their care in their final hours and days of life.

Financial incentives to put people on the regime would also be scrapped, he added.

Writing in Age and Ageing, the journal of the British Geriatrics Society, Mr Regnard said: "The death of the Liverpool Care Pathway was preventable, an irony that was lost in the rush to pronounce its demise and promote the message of a listening government.

"It is as logical to discredit guidance because of errant clinicians as it is to ban the Highway Code because of bad drivers."

He added: "The Neuberger report failed to show that the Liverpool Care Pathway was the cause of poor end-of-life care and made it the scapegoat for poor communication and faulty decision-making.

"The report's discrediting of a quality assurance mechanism that had the potential for improvement is a disservice to dying patients."