Posted on 01/03/2013

90% of Doctors Support the Liverpool Care Pathway

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90% of Doctors Support the Liverpool Care Pathway

Recent study unveils that 90% of doctors support controversial Liverpool Care Pathway

According to recent reports from UK newspapers, “90% of doctors would be prepared to be placed on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) programme if they were nearing death.”

The LCP, which has been widely used for more than a decade, recently became a ‘hot topic’ for newspapers and raised several legitimate concerns about its use. While some of the concerns were distinctly lurid, the media attention did bring up valid points such as the inappropriate placement of patients on the care pathway and the lack of discussion with family members and if appropriate, the patients themselves.

After having received much criticism, the LCP has been subjected to ongoing reviews by both the Department of Health and the NHS National End of Life Care Programme.

The reports featuring in both the Metro and the Daily Telegraph followed an opinion poll looking at palliative care specialists and asking them their views on the LCP. Out of over 3,000 UK doctors that were contacted, 563 with experience in LCP responded, with surprisingly positive results. 91% thought that the LCP represented the best care for those who were dying, and more importantly perhaps, allowed them to die with dignity and 90% of respondents said they would be happy to be placed on the pathway themselves if they were near death.

Other Issues underlined in the Liverpool Care Pathway Survey

The survey also highlighted key issues raised by doctors such as the need for additional training in assessing and recognising whether patients were coming to the end of their lives. One consultant said, “There are undoubtedly cases reported in the press where end of life care has not been managed well. These should be criticisms of training, assessment and common sense. They are not correctly directed at the pathway.”

While the survey may reassure patients and families of those reaching end of life care, the statistics were based on an email survey with those most likely to respond having worked closely with the LCP on previous occasions, however with a good proportion of specialists in support of the pathway, patients, friends and families can take some comfort from the widespread support of the initiative.

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