The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), originally developed by the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, is designed to offer a peaceful and pain free death for elderly patients who are nearing the end of their lives. Once a patient is on the LCP, management can include ceasing invasive testing, the withdrawal of medication and food.
In recent months many concerns have been raised about the use of the pathway, less as to the way it is used but more in relation to if and when patients should be moved on to it. Families have raised concerns that they have not been consulted and end of life care has not been appropriate, while critics have suggested that it has been used to cut costs rather than maintaining patients. Some concerns have also been raised in relation to the care provided on the pathway.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said last week: "The independent review into end of life care system the Liverpool Care Pathway, commissioned last year by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and backed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, is likely to recommend that the LCP is phased out over the next six to 12 months."
The review panel is due to report back today.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Solicitors, said: “The Liverpool Care Pathway was designed with the best intentions – to provide end of life care in the least traumatic way possible. However, when and how it is used has become a source of great concern in many areas.
"We have encountered families who have not been advised of the decision to use the pathway and when they have insisted on family members being taken off of it, they have made a good recovery to a stable condition. Such a pathway must be used with great caution and clear standards and it is apparent that the Liverpool pathway is not working as intended. It will be interesting to see what is recommended in its place.”