New End-Of-Life Care Guidance Welcomed By Legal Experts

Consultation Launched On Replacement For Controversial Liverpool Care Pathway

29.07.2015

Specialist public lawyers who have long-held concerns regarding the Liverpool Care Pathway for end-of-life care have welcomed the release of new draft guidance which is expected to replace it.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has proposed new guidance, which is open for consultation until September 9th, based around ensuring that staff are involving both patients and their relatives in key decisions and through proper communication.

It is hoped the new system will address issues raised by the Liverpool Care Pathway, which was phased out last year after a review identified failings and concerns including whether fluids were being withheld from patients.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman had stated that end of life care could be improved for up to 335,000 people a year in England.

He added: “The guideline we are developing will ensure that people who are nearing the end of their lives are treated with respect and receive excellent care.”

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team have welcomed the release of the new draft guidance and revealed hopes it will improve standards for end of life care.

Expert Opinion
“While the Liverpool Care Pathway was created with the best of intentions, it became increasingly apparent in recent years that it was not fit for purpose and there were serious concerns regarding the guidelines and their use.

“This new draft guidance is an important step towards providing better end-of-life care to those who require it, in keeping with patient’s human rights to dignity. The initial reports regarding what is to be included in the guidance is encouraging.

“Patients and their loved ones are the best people to talk to regarding the choices being made in care. While there will undoubtedly be a number of cases in which the clinical decisions are correct, families have to be consulted to ensure they are comfortable with the steps being taken.

“This has to be a core principle behind the new guidance and such a move will ensure that ethical standards and legal rights are being upheld in end-of-life support.”
Yogi Amin, Partner