The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, there is no procedure, as there is no such inquiry. A number of organisations, led by the National End of Life Care Programme, Dying Matters and the Association for Palliative Medicine, are looking into complaints, patient experience and clinical opinion on the Liverpool Care Pathway. We do not make policy decisions based on anecdote. If the work in hand suggests cause for concern, we will respond on the basis of that evidence.
Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that large numbers of people with personal experience of how the LCP is now operating complain that their relatives were denied hydration in hospital and died in acute pain and discomfort, with no knowledge whatever or agreement of having been put on this pathway? Is he aware that patients often survive if relatives step in in time and give their dear ones help and water? One rang me a few days ago and she is now going on a cruise. Will my noble friend assure us that there will be an inquiry, which has been
promised and announced in the press, and that it will be truly independent and not carried out by those who have vested interests? Nothing else will do.
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Earl Howe: My Lords, there is never any cause for complacency in a matter of this kind, and I can reassure my noble friend that the Government will keep this issue under review. At the same time, I hope she will allow me to respond in slightly more forthright terms than I normally do, because there has been an enormous amount of misreporting and misinformation around the Liverpool Care Pathway, which has been endorsed publicly in a consensus document by 22 of the leading professional organisations and patient organisations in this area, including Marie Curie. We cannot ignore that. As I mentioned in my Answer, some of those organisation are looking carefully at the reports to which my noble friend alluded. It is notable that not a single complaint has reached the regulators in this area, which I suggest indicates that there may be less substance to some of these stories than may first reach the eye. However, I emphasise that there is no complacency.
The Honourable Gentleman did not mince his words in response to the Lady Baroness' question. Is the Honourable Gentleman now prepared to eat his words or does he prove himself to be the Dishonourable Gentleman?
This is the Telegraph -