Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

New Guidelines proposed on end of life care

The Liverpool Care Pathway was developed during the late 1990s at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, in conjunction with the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute. It was intended to provide the best quality of care possible for dying patients in the last hours and days of life, whether they were in hospital, at home, in a care home or in a hospice.

An independent review into end of life care (chaired by Baroness Julia Neuberger) was published in July 2013. The review criticised end of life care advising that the Liverpool Care Pathway had become a “tick box” exercise. The review heard from many families who believe that their dying relatives had been left without adequate nutrition and hydration and that there had been an incorrect denial of fluids in some cases. It also found that some decisions were being made by inexperienced staff.

England’s health watchdog has now put forward new draft guidance to improve the care of adults in their last few days of life. The new guidelines encourage staff to involve patients and relatives in decisions and to communicate well.

The guidance is intended for patients, relatives, hospitals, hospices and others involved in end-of-life care and it is open for public review until September 2015. Under the new guidelines there is to be better communication with patients and relatives and to be daily reviews of patients’ medication and to check that they are not thirsty or in need of nutrition.

Under the new guidelines patients would also be monitored for signs of improvement and should be reviewed by experienced staff should improvement be noted.

If you have concerns regarding poor treatment provided to a relative in their final days, please contact our Medical Negligence team on 0345 209 1268.