– Pathway involves the sick being sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids
– Families kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment
– Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’
– Anti-euthanasia group said: ‘The Pathway is designed to finish people off double quick’
Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.
A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.
Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.
In comments that appeared to prejudge an official inquiry into the LCP, the Health Secretary said ‘one or two’ mistakes should not be allowed to discredit the entire end-of-life system.
But Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of Alert, an anti-euthanasia group, said: ‘The Pathway is designed to finish people off double quick. It is a lethal pathway.
‘Mr Hunt has made a nonsense of the claim of his ministers that there is going to be an independent inquiry.’
The review follows a public outcry over a string of disturbing cases, highlighted by this paper, in which patients or their families were ignored.
The pathway involves withdrawal of lifesaving treatment, with the sick sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids. Death typically takes place within 29 hours.
The 60,000 figure comes from a joint study by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool and the Royal College of Physicians.
It found many patients were not consulted despite being conscious when doctors decided on their care.
Records from 178 hospitals also show that thousands of people on the pathway are left to die in pain because nurses do not do enough to keep them comfortable while drugs are administered.
An estimated 130,000 patients are put on the pathway each year.
Concerns have been raised that clinical judgments are being skewed by incentives for hospitals to use the pathway.
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