End-of-life care regime to stop

A controversial end-of-life care regime will be phased out in Scotland over the next year.

The Liverpool Care Pathway regime is to be phased out in Scotland

A controversial end-of-life care regime will be phased out in Scotland over the next year.

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), already axed in England, recommends that in some circumstances doctors should withdraw treatment, food and water from sedated patients in their final hours or days.

The Scottish Government took the decision based on recommendations from the Living and Dying Well National Advisory Group.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "When the LCP was introduced, the aim was to support the delivery of high-quality care by all clinical teams providing care in the final days and hours of life. This aim is as relevant today as it ever was.

"The expert group looking at this issue has recommended phasing out the LCP and setting up a new group to develop an alternative. In the meantime, strong interim guidance will be put in place to ensure that care for those at the end of their lives meets the high standards we demand.

"This will include work to support staff to speak to patients and their families openly and honestly to avoid misunderstandings and distress. Families need to know there is a clear accountability for care and this must be communicated so patients know there is a named GP or consultant taking overall responsibility for care.

"We expect new, comprehensive guidance to be in place within a year."

In July the Neuberger review concluded that the pathway was used, in the wrong hands, "as an excuse for poor-quality care".

Health officials ordered a replacement system in England where patients should now get "personalised" end-of-life care plans.

Members of the English review panel, chaired by cross-bench peer Baroness Julia Neuberger, said they were "shocked" and "upset" at some of the cases of appalling care.