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Minister recommends replacement care plan for dying patients

Liverpool Care Pathway pulled after damning report reveals poor practice

15 July 2013

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New end-of-life care plans are to replace the discredited Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) under new government plans revealed today.

Senior clinicians at NHS hospitals will now be assigned to patients, overseeing their final hours or days, and immediately undertake clinical reviews of their care, after an independent review found too many cases of poor practice.

The review also recommended stopping local financial incentives for hospitals to promote a certain type of care for dying patients, including the LCP.

"I have personally heard families describe staff slavishly following a process without care or compassion and leaving people suffering at the end of their lives. This is something we cannot allow to go on," said care and support minister Norman Lamb.

The controversial pathway will be phased out over the next six to 12 months and superseded by bespoke end-of-life care for individuals backed up by condition-specific guidance, agreed with a named senior clinician.

The review, headed by Baroness Julia Neuberger, found that the LCP did help people have a dignified, painless death when administered by well-trained clinical teams.

However, there were numerous criticisms including the poor quality care, with families and carers not being fully engaged in a patient's progress.

The Department of Health commissioned the consultation amid negative headlines in the national media – see 'Tunnel vision'.

Patients and families whose complaints about the LCP remain unresolved will have the opportunity to have their case reviewed.

"We hope the actions we have taken today will reassure patients and their families that everyone coming to the end of their life is getting the best possible care and that concerns are being dealt with swiftly," Lamb said.

The government will work with key organisations, stakeholders and charities after fully considering the recommendations of the review in the autumn.

"It will be interesting to see whether the recommendations have any implications for private client practitioners when advising on end-of-life planning," said solicitor Carol McBride.

 

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