Families are to get a legal right to be consulted before patients are put on the "death pathway", it has been revealed.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will today announce the new obligation on doctors as part of a raft of changes to the NHS constitution.
The move follows the emergence of cases where patients were placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway - which involves withdrawal of fluids and food - without relatives' knowledge.
Under the reforms, being put out for consultation today, health trusts that fail to involve patients and families in decisions could be sued while doctors who ignore their wishes face being struck off.
ITV News' Medical Correspondent Sue Saville reports:
Mr Hunt told the Daily Mail:
For the first time, the coalition's policy on single sex wards would be included in the constitution.
The document would pledge that those admitted to hospital "will not have to share sleeping accommodation with patients of the opposite sex".
Other planned changes include;
- A new right for patients to receive acknowledgement, an explanation and apology where mistakes have been made.
- A commitment that complaints will be acknowledged within three working days, and tougher rules on handling them.
- A warning that abusive and violent patients could be denied access to NHS services, if it is "safe" to do so.
A Department of Health source added:
Health Minister Norman Lamb said the Government was determined to protect the founding principles of the health service.
Marie Curie Cancer Care welcomed the proposed new legal right for patients to be consulted on end-of-life care decisions.
But the charity said the Government should go further and called for the next independent national audit of the Liverpool Care Pathway to be brought forward.
Imelda Redmond, director of policy and public affairs at Marie Curie, said:
What is the Liverpool Care Pathway?
- The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is a scheme that is intended to improve the quality of care in the final hours or days of a patient’s life, and to ensure a peaceful and comfortable death.
- It aims to guide doctors, nurses and other health workers looking after someone who is dying on issues such as the appropriate time to remove tubes providing food and fluid, or when to stop medication.
- However, its use for some has become controversial, with relatives reportedly claiming it has been used without consent, and some saying it is used inappropriately.