Hospital's care system 'not a short cut to euthanasia'

First published in News

AFTER negative headlines, staff at Warrington Hospital have been setting the record straight regarding Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

The care system for patients dying, used in hospitals across the country, has been described as a ‘short cut to euthanasia’ in national press.

Consultant nurse in palliative care Margaret Kendall said they were not ‘killing people to free up beds’ and the hospital had not been set any targets regarding the number of patients supported by the pathway.

But she did admit there may have been cases where relatives had not been informed their loved one had been put on the LCP.

Mrs Kendall said: “The LCP is a tool to ensure best practice and used to support health care professionals as someone is dying.

“It ensures the best possible quality of care is given to the patient and family and a multi professional decision to decide if somebody is dying.

“We don’t put people into deep sedation to kill them as has been reported, if they are agitated we give them an appropriate dose to ensure symptoms are addressed.”

Reports patients’ food and fluids are stopped was also described by Mrs Kendall as untrue.

If a patient is not responding it should ‘trigger a sensitive conversation’ with the family according to Mrs Kendall but if the condition stabilises and improves they can come off the pathway.

She added: “It would be great to say 100 per cent of cases have been informed (their relative has been put on the pathway) but I’m not that naive.

“There will be more training not only on communication but also on recognition of dying so we can make sure people die as peacefully as they can and relatives feel supported.”

WHILE other trusts have been reported as having financial incentives relating to the number of patients put on the LCP, Margaret Kendall said it was not the case at Warrington Hospital.

She added there were no targets and speaking to execs she did not think the hospital will ever have them.

Figures have found the number of patient deaths supported by the LCP range from 29 per cent of deaths each month at the hospital to 50 per cent in the last two years.

Between April 2012 and November 2012, of the 742 deaths at the hospital 278 were supported by LCP.

Mrs Kendall added: “Since the negative headlines started in the summer we have had three people questioning LCP and only one person didn’t want it.

“If it was one of my loved ones I would want them on a care pathway as I know it’s the best possible quality of care.”

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