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End of life care under review

End of life care is under review to ensure patients are always treated with dignity, it was announced this week.

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is used to ensure quality in the last days and hours of life, in the individual's own home or in hospital, but late last year it came under fire.

Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister is one of the review chairs. He said: “Experts agree the Liverpool Care Pathway, if applied properly, can play a vital role, but, as we have seen, there have been too many cases where patients or their families were ignored or not properly involved in decisions. This is simply unacceptable.

“I have also been extremely concerned about what loved ones have said regarding the withdrawal of food and fluids. It is so important for relatives to have complete confidence in the care that a loved one is receiving."

Baroness Julia Neuberger, former King's Fund chief executive and crossbench peer will oversee the review which will examine the experience and opinions of patietnts, families, healthcare workers and payments made to hospitals for the LCP.

Changes to improve care and ensure that carers and families are involved in the decision-making process will be recommended by the review.

Baroness Neuberger said: “How we care for people at the end of their lives is a reflection of our society's values and civilisation.

“At its best, Britain leads the world in end-of-life care, but it is not always perfect, and we need to work hard to get it right for everyone, providing the personal care individuals and their families both want and need.”

The technique came under fire from a group of senior doctors, last year, who warned that it has made euthanasia a “standard way of dying on the NHS”.