Thursday 3 September 2009

Is your local hospital, hospice or care home operating the Liverpool Care Pathway?

Terminally ill patients are in serious danger of being killed under a national scheme for end-of-life treatment, leading doctors have said. In a letter to the Daily Telegraph the doctors, including prominent pro-life experts Dr Anthony Cole and Professor Peter Millard, warn that the Liverpool Care Pathway (which I blogged about last month) may result in terminally ill patients being wrongly diagnosed as imminently dying. These patients then have food and fluids withdrawn and are given terminal sedation.

As Alison Davis of No Less Human points out in her new paper "The case of Tony Bland", the practice of consigning vulnerable patients to a death pathway stems from the 1992 court ruling against Tony Bland, which resulted in him being dehydrated to death. The government's 2005 Mental Capacity Act extended the possible scope of this practice. The inherent right to life of all patients, whether they are terminally ill or not, must be defended in the face of a war against the weak. As Alison argues:
"What was started in Bland may well end in the direct killing of any sick, disabled or elderly person, on the grounds that such lives have no value. We all have reason to be very afraid."
This is particularly true considering the government's predictable yet disturbing response to concerns about the Liverpool Care Pathway, which is simply to praise the Pathway and its own record to the skies. A government concerned about possible killings of patients would consult the concerned experts and launch an investigation.

May I urge readers to check whether the Pathway is being rolled out in hospitals, hospices or care homes where you live? If so, please write to the management there and draw their attention courteously to the concerns expressed about the Pathway expressed in the Telegraph letter.

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