NHS hospitals are using end-of-life care to help elderly patients to die because they are difficult to look after and take up valuable beds, a top doctor has warned.
Professor Pullicino claims some patients put on the Liverpool Care Pathway could live longer
Professor Patrick Pullicino has claimed that doctors are using a care pathway designed to help make people’s final days more comfortable as an equivalent to euthanasia.
The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is used in hospitals for patients who are terminally ill or are expected to die imminently. Under the pathway, doctors can withdraw treatment, food and water while patients are heavily sedated.
Almost a third of patients – 130,000 – who die in hospital or under NHS care a year are on the LCP.
Professor Pullicino said he believed the LCP was being used as an “assisted death pathway” with patients placed on the LCP without clear evidence, according to the the Daily Mail.
The senior consultant at East Kent Hospitals told the Royal Society of Medicine he had personally intervened to have a 71-year-old man taken off the LCP and be treated successfully, despite claims he was expected to die within hours or days. He had arrived in hospital with pneumonia and epilepsy.
“I removed the patient from the LCP despite significant resistance,” he said. “His seizures came under control and four weeks later he was discharged home to his family.
“The lack of evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway makes it an assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway.”
Professor Pullicino said the 71-year-old man lived for another 14 months before he suffered pneumonia again and was admitted to a different hospital. He was put on the LCP and died five hours later.