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by Tom Freeman
20 December 2013
Liverpool Care Pathway to be replaced

Liverpool Care Pathway to be replaced

Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), a system of caring for dying patients is to be phased out in Scotland, the Scottish government has announced.

Following recommendations by the Living and Dying Well National Advisory Group the controversial scheme will be replaced by an alternative end of life plan, developed by a new working group.

Health secretary Alex Neil said: “When the LCP was introduced, the aim was to support the delivery of high quality care by all clinical teams providing care in the final days and hours of life. This aim is as relevant today as it ever was. We expect new, comprehensive guidance to be in place within a year.”

LCP is a care plan following a decision by a doctor that a patient is ready to die. The pathway was not designed to hasten death, but an independent review of the process in England found it sometimes may have.

Last month the family of 83-year-old Jean Tulloch called for a murder inquiry after they claimed she had fluid and food withdrawn on the LCP at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.

The independent review in England, led by crossbench peer Baroness Julia Neuberger, reported misuse of the pathway had led to a “tick box” exercise with patients being left without adequate nutrition and hydration.

Alex Neil said: “While standards of end of life care in Scotland are generally very high, the aim of improving care in the last days and hours of life to ensure that everyone has a dignified death is a priority for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland.”

In a recent interview with Holyrood Professor Scott Murray, St Columba’s Hospice Chair of Primary Palliative Care at Edinburgh University said doctors should consider patients for an end of life care plan earlier.  “It’s like an umbrella. You go for a walk, you take an umbrella” he said
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