Monday, 15 August 2011

Liverpool Care Pathway – A Mad Hatter's Tea Party

For decades, there has been an unofficial policy in the NHS 
to make no great effort to intervene to preserve life, to let them go and even to help them on their way.

Since 2000, the instances of helpless patients being denied the basic necessities needed to sustain life are becoming more prominent in the news. That 'unofficial' policy has found 'official' grounding in the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Elspeth Chowdharay Best, from ALERT,  is reported as saying that, "Death by dehydration has been occurring for some years in Britain without the new official blessing [of the Liverpool Care Pathway protocol] and sometimes challenged by relatives."

The Sunday Times has reported  that many families are "dismayed" that their cases were not included in a long-term investigation into ten suspicious deaths of elderly patients in a convalescent home in Hampshire between 1996 and 1999. 

Mike Wilson told the Times that his 91 year-old mother, Edna Purnell, had been out of bed and using a walking frame when she was transferred to the Hampshire unit for what was supposed to have been a brief period of rehabilitation. 

Records show that Mrs. Purnell was put to bed and given morphine. The hospital threatened Mr. Wilson with arrest when he was caught feeding his mother. She was judged to be "demented" and thus falling under the auspices of the Mental Capacity Act. 

Mr. Wilson told the times that his mother was not "demented" before she was given morphine: "We are in no doubt that this is what killed her." 

What is going on?

When patients became 'agitated' they were given drugs in increasing quantities until 'they were agitated no more' - Tom Clark, the lawyer for the GMC.

'The LCP also supports the management of distress caused by agitation and restlessness and the provision of anticipatory drugs  ...

Curiouser and curiouser.

According to The Mail - 
Relatives of Dr Barton's alleged victims suggest she was being protected by the medical establishment. John White acting for them said: "There is a real fear that if the GMC doesn't come out with clear sanctions, the CPS and the police will use that as a pretext to stop looking.
"Dr Barton would give morphine not just for the pain. She also thought it would improve their wellbeing even if it hastened their deaths."
Panel chairman Andrew Reid said: 'Dr Barton failed to recognise the limits of her professional competence.' He said she was ' convinced that her way had been the right way and that there had been no need to entertain seriously the views of others.'

The panel was greatly impressed by the many compelling testimonials which detailed Dr Barton's safe practise over the last ten years and the high regard in which she is held by numerous colleagues and patients.'

The LCP protocol recommends midazolam as required for agitation. Midazolam is one of the 'cocktail of drugs' the press reports Dr Barton to have administered to her victims.

Curiouser and curiouser. 

But this is not the Mad Hatter's Tea Party ; this is the NHS in the 21st century. 

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