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Liverpool Care Pathway was 'scapegoat' says doctor

A senior doctor criticising the axing of the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway has said the care regime was a "scapegoat"

Palliative care consultant Claud Regnard also compared the decision to banning the Highway Code because of bad drivers.

Writing in Age and Ageing, the journal of the British Geriatrics Society, Mr Regnard said:

The death of the Liverpool Care Pathway was preventable, an irony that was lost in the rush to pronounce its demise and promote the message of a listening government.

The Neuberger report failed to show that the Liverpool Care Pathway was the cause of poor end-of-life care and made it the scapegoat for poor communication and faulty decision-making.

The report's discrediting of a quality assurance mechanism that had the potential for improvement is a disservice to dying patients.

– Claud Regnard

Decision to axe care pathway 'illogical'

The decision to axe a controversial care pathway scheme has been labelled "illogical" by a senior end-of-life doctor.

In July an independent review panel said they were "shocked" and "upset" at some of the "distressing" cases of care used. Credit: PA

Palliative care consultant Claud Regnard said scrapping the Liverpool Care Pathway - which recommends the withdrawal of treatment, food and water from some sedated patients in their final hours or days - is a "tragedy".

The decision to scrap the measure was made in July after an independent review concluded doctors had used the pathway "as an excuse for poor-quality care".


'Death pathway' may be phased out in 6 to 12 months

A Department of Health spokeswoman said an independent review into end of life care system the Liverpool Care Pathway, was commissioned last year by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and backed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

I took the decision to launch this review because concerns were raised with me about how patients were being cared for and how families were being treated during this difficult and sensitive time.

We took those concerns very seriously and decided that we needed to establish the facts of what was happening so we could act where needed.

We need a new system of better end-of-life care tailored to the needs of individual patients and involving their families.

– Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb

It is likely to recommend that the LCP is phased out over the next 6 to 12 months.

Your comments on end-of-life care changes

ITV News asked what you make of the proposal to make it a legal obligation for health professionals to inform families of any end-of-life care decisions they take.

Here is a selection of your responses:

Fully agree with it. Families should always be involved in the decision on what happens to a loved one.

– Philip Carey in Wrexham, Wales

The doctors already do this at my local hospital.

– fran clair in fleet, hampshire

Shouldn't a final will and testament be the resounding voice at the end though? ... That states exactly what the patient would want.

– Dawn Marie Lewis

You can share your thoughts by visiting our Facebook page or emailing us at:

Labour: Families must be 'fully involved' in end-of-life care

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has said he welcomes the proposal to legally oblige health professionals to inform patients' relatives before making end-of-life care decisions.

He said: "I welcome this move to strengthen families' rights in end-of-life care.

"I support the Liverpool Care Pathway, but it is absolutely essential that it is properly explained to people. Families must be fully involved and consulted at every stage.

"But, while these changes are good as far as they go, I would like to see much more ambition from the Government on end-of-life care.

"Far too many families in England find themselves spending their final hours with a loved-one in a hospital. Many would much rather be together at home or in a hospice.


What does the Liverpool Care Pathway involve?

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is a best practice guide designed to help health professionals across the NHS give patients better care in their last few hours or days.

Its name comes from the Liverpool-based NHS Trust that developed the pathway in 1997.

The pathway can be used irrespective of the diagnosis and can be used in a hospital, home, hospice or care home - but only when all relevant medical staff agree that the patient is dying.

  • Medication may be reviewed
  • Relatives of the patient should be consulted about maintaining the patient's comfort
  • Intake of food and fluids may be reviewed in the best interests of the patient
  • Any spiritual or religious needs of the patient should be determined and catered for

Mo Mowlam doctor: Liverpool Care Pathway is 'corrupt'

Professor Mark Glaser, the cancer specialist who treated the former Labour Cabinet minister Mo Mowlam, has described the Liverpool Care Pathway as "corrupt".

You can’t be just guided by admission rates and targets.

There is nothing more intransigent and corrupt at the moment in medical practices as the hospice Liverpool Pathway movement.

It’s not really active or passive euthanasia, it’s negligence ...

All the managers want the bed space and they will take down drips weeks earlier to get people out. That is a scandal.

– Professor Mark Glaser
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