Chair appointed in Liverpool Care Pathway review

A GOVERNMENT review into how the Liverpool Care Pathway is being used in practice will be led by crossbench peer Baroness Julia Neuberger.

The pathway has been subject of criticism by some patients and their families over a lack of proper consultation and consent in end-of-life decisions – and also a perception that it is mainly a way of hastening death in terminally ill patients.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb made the commitment to appoint an independent chair for the review late last year following a roundtable on the LCP with a wide range of experts and representatives of patients and their families. The review will examine various elements of the LCP including the experience and opinions of patients and families and health professionals, hospital complaints, local payments made to hospitals in respect of the LCP and the literature about benefits and limitations of the pathway.

The review panel will hold a number of evidence sessions, invite written submissions, as well as hosting a session dedicated exclusively to hearing personal stories from families. Following this work, the review will make recommendations about what, if any, changes are needed.

Norman Lamb said: "Everyone wants their loved ones' final hours to be as pain free and dignified as possible. Experts agree the Liverpool Care Pathway, if applied properly, can play a vital role in achieving this aim, 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."