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Problems with Liverpool Care Pathway for dying

Doctors have admitted that there are problems with the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) which allows doctors to restrict care to palliative treatment only for certain terminally ill patients.  It is designed to provide "End of Life Care".

The LCP has recently been heavily criticised with members of the British Medical Association (BMA) alleging that dying patients may have been assessed as suitable and placed on the LCP when it was inappropriate.  They allege that some NHS Trusts have been offered financial rewards if they hit certain targets associated with "End of Life Care".

It is alleged that patients remained on the pathway for several weeks without follow-up and that relatives of dying patients reported that their loved ones had been placed on the pathway without consent.

These allegations are being taken seriously and an independent review is expected following severe scrutiny of the LCP in the media throughout 2012.

The review will be chaired by Baroness Neuberger.

During a debate on the issue at the BMA annual conference held in Edinburgh, doctors made it clear that the pathway was an important part of "End of Life Care" for patients.

Melanie Lidstone Land, expert medical negligence lawyer at Swain & Co, says, “I welcome the review into the use of the pathway.  When a loved one is terminally ill or deemed by medical professionals to be "dying", families must be able to feel assured and confident that everything is being done to keep their relative comfortable and pain free in their last days.  "End of Life Care" is a hugely important part of the service delivered by the NHS.  If this service is failing then the users of that service deserve answers."

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