Concerns over the Liverpool Care Pathway
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The Health Minister, Norman Lamb, has reacted to reports in the Daily Telegraph that two third of NHS Trusts in England using the Liverpool Care Pathway regime have been paid sums totalling millions of pounds for reaching targets related to their use. Responses to a Freedom of Information request by the paper have suggested that at least Â£12.4m has been paid out to trusts in the past three years .Mr Lamb said any payments made in connection with the pathway happened at a local level, without the government's involvement.
Tom Chivers of the Telegraph commented that â€œthe Pathway involves taking patients off hydration and nutrition; at that point, you start getting into questions about where "withdrawing treatment" ends and "hastening death" begins. It's a racing certainty that some patients who might have lived, perhaps for years more, if they weren't put on the Pathway, have died unnecessarily. We need to be honest about what we want from end-of-life care, and to be honest about the most horrible question that it's possible to ask: how much is a human life worth? In suffering, in money, in time and inconvenience?"
Mr Lamb said he wanted to hear about cases where patients or their families had not been properly involved in, or informed about, how they were being treated and had convened a "roundtable" of clinicians and patients groups later this month to discuss the issue.
I am pleased that Mr Lamb appears to be taking this so seriously. Relatives will need reassurance that the Pathway is an appropriate way forward for their loved ones.
Clinical Negligence team
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