ARC 2013: Pathway for dying patients needs greater transparency, say delegates
5 March 2013
A debate about the widespread use of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) among patients considered to be nearing the end of their lives prompted a speaker to reveal some poignant personal experiences.
Rachael Machin, from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network, said the pathway had been developed in the 1990s for use in hospices. But it was now being widely used with many thousands of patients deemed to be dying, raising concerns that staff administering it ‘were not adequately trained or experienced’.
Ms Machin said her grandmother had been placed on the LCP when in hospital with pneumonia, without any discussions with her or her family. As a result, her grandmother, who had been given her last rights, was denied medication for her condition. Happily, despite this, she surprised everyone by making a swift recovery.
The motion proposed by Ms Machin and others claimed that a recent national audit had found that dying patients on the pathway were left to suffer in pain, ‘with no attempt to keep them comfortable by administering drugs, food or fluids’.
The audit’s findings prompted health secretary for England Jeremy Hunt to set up an independent review into the use of pathway, chaired by to Baroness Julia Neuberger, which is about to take evidence from families.
Opposing the motion, Claire Myers, from the CSP-recognised professional network the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Oncology and Palliative Care, said it would be sensible for the CSP to wait until that review had been published before commenting.
Ms Machin’s call for the CSP to raise awareness of the LCP was overwhelmingly backed by delegates. The CSP should also support calls for transparency over its use, and ‘empower members, patients and their families to ensure the pathway is correctly applied’, the motion added.