A Bradford woman whose elderly mother died after being placed on the now-discredited Liverpool Care Pathway has told of her delight that the policy is being scrapped.
Mother-of-three Joan Flynn, who had just become a great-grandmother, died in the Royal Preston Hospital aged 90.
Mrs Flynn, who lived in Bolton, Bradford for more than 50 years had suffered a fall at her Lancashire home.
Her daughter Susan Brook, 61, of Eccleshill, said she was placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) and a ‘do not resuscitate’ order was placed on her without any consultation with her family.
When her family realised what was happening, they pleaded with doctors to take her off the LCP which they did.
But, Mrs Flynn died on Sunday, July 24, 2011, six days after being admitted to hospital with a suspected broken rib.
The LCP earned the grim nickname of the “death pathway” due to patients being starved of food and drink in the last stages of life.
This week a review by the Government called for the policy to be binned and replaced with individual end-of-life care plans.
Yesterday Mrs Brook said she was overjoyed that the LCP was ending: “I’m highly delighted it’s going to be phased out, although I wish it could happen straight away.
“I’m really, really pleased as I watched my mother being denied food and liquid and she passed away three days before her 91st birthday.
“The LCP itself is possibly a good thing for cancer patients in hospices, but it should never have been brought into hospitals.
“What is very sad is a lot of it came down to money with cash incentives being offered to hospitals for the rate they could empty beds.”
Mrs Brook said she was glad to have been part of national outcry over the LCP which prompted the review.
Legal compensation expert Philip Needham of Bradford said the NHS was unlikely to face big financial claims from relatives of those who died prematurely due to abuse of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
“This situation falls under the Fatal Accidents Act in which a dependent relative would only ever be entitled to a maximum payout of £5,000,” Mr Needham said.
“And the relative has to prove they were financially dependent on the old people, therefore the numbers involved will be very small.”
Reactions To The Liverpool Care Pathway Review:
As recently as last November health bosses in the Bradford district were firmly backing the Liverpool Care Pathway in keeping with nationwide policy. It was even described as the “gold-standard” of palliative care.
But following the review headed by Baroness Neuberger, which stated: “Caring for the dying must never again be practised as a tickbox exercise,” the mood has changed.
Dr Andy McElligott, medical director of Bradford District Care Trust, said: “We would like to reassure our patients and their families, that we put patient care at the centre of our services.
“Our use of the Liverpool Care Pathway has always been in full consultation with a patient where possible and/or their loved ones.
“The Liverpool Care Pathway is used by highly trained staff who specialise in end of life care. We would always support a review of best practice to help inform our future plans.
“We will also consult with patients and carers to better understand their views and opinions so that we can respond in the best way possible to the findings of this report.”
Andrew Catto, medical director of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are committed to providing the best care possible for dying patients and their relatives in accordance with their wishes.
“Our clinical staff receive training in care of the dying and this will be reviewed in light of the report.
“Prior to the report, we had also sought opinions from bereaved relatives to get their views on our care for dying patients and any improvements we could make.”
A spokesman for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, struck a similar note: “We support the recommendations for the development of an individual end of life care plan to ensure patients’ final hours and days are as comfortable and dignified as possible,” he said.