Liverpool Care Pathway: Your experiences
- 13 July 2013
- From the section Health
The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) should be phased out, an independent review is expected to say.
The system was designed to allow terminally-ill patients to die peacefully and with dignity.
However, the LCP has come under criticism with some believe it is being used to speed up the process of dying. There have been some reports of patients being put on it without consent and not being allowed, food, fluids and medication.
Here, family members of those who have been on the Liverpool Care Pathway, share their experiences of the programme.
Two years ago, when I was 22, I lost my 56-year-old mother to cancer.
During the six months from her diagnosis in January 2012 until her death, she was unknowingly to us put on the LCP. She was deprived of fluids and any source of nutritional supplement without even the slightest consent or conversation with me or my family.
It was only after my absolute insistence and persistence that my mother received fluids and that was after over 36 hours without any.
It scares me that people who do not have bossy and demanding families, like me and mine, to fight for them will be left or even encouraged to die via the LCP.
My mother survived another three months. We got to hear her laugh and joke again and importantly my mother got to say her goodbyes. Had the enforced LCP been allowed to continue, those few important months of time with my mother would have without a doubt been taken away from me and my family.
I can't stress how important me and my family feel about the process of the LCP. It needs to be readdressed - the memories it could have deprived me of are invaluable. She wrote me a letter that I will have forever and it will always be the most treasured item I possess.
My mother passed away from cancer just three months ago. The Liverpool Care Pathway was used and I have nothing but praise for it. We had help from night nurses through the NHS Beacon program, Marie Curie and Macmillan, all of which gave exemplary care. Leaflets on the LCP were given to us and time was taken by all to fully explain why and how it would work.
Towards the end, my mother couldn't swallow and didn't want food - this was her body getting ready to die. It was slow and peaceful, and she was my mother until about the day before when we all knew she was leaving.
There was no prolonging of life. She was ready to go and the Liverpool Care Pathway aided her in a gentle and thoughtful way. It wasn't the refusal to give her food and drink; she no longer wanted it.
She had as natural an early death as can be and I am thankful as it helped me and my family cope as we saw her slip away. This is something that should be offered and explained to patients and family and I have nothing but support for it.
My father Professor Robert Hughes was subjected to this technique without my or his consent. When it became clear that his cancer of the prostrate became untreatable I was asked what I wanted to do and I told them clearly that I wanted him to die with dignity.
I was assured by the staff at the hospital that would happen, that he would have died a dignified death. He didn't. He was sedated, unconscious and died within three days looking like something from Belsen concentration camp.
He was not given water or food but instead put on a driver syringe containing diamorphine, midazolam and cyclizine.
The first two of those drugs would down a horse.
In the new scheme when that comes out, if they allow these two drugs to be continued to be used, it is euthanasia, plain and simple.