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Monday 18th June 2018

Liverpool care pathway protects dignity of dying

21st October 2009

Tom Hughes-Hallett, chief executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care, says when used properly the Liverpool Care Pathway protects the dignity of the dying.


A decade ago, many people ended their lives in hospital attached to machines that went “beep.”

In the years since, however, the way in which many hospital patients are cared for has improved enormously.

Death is now treated as the natural end of life “rather than a failure of medical technology.”

Behind these improvements has been the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying which gives doctors and nurses guidance on how to care for a dying patient.

The protocol ensures a patient is pain free, comfortable and not in distress.

While there have been controversies surrounding the pathway, Marie Curie Cancer Care fully backs its correct use.

Debate and criticism are valuable in this area but we also believe there is a need to scotch some myths over it.

The pathway neither hastens nor slows death; it ensures the clinical staff continue to explain to the patient and relatives what is happening; and sees that spiritual and religious needs are met.

The pathway is under regular review but is only as good as the team using it and that is why we are in favour of mandatory training.

When the Liverpool Care Pathway is correctly used, it offers a dignified death but does not hasten it.

This is an area where Marie Curie will continue to challenge the government and the NHS to ensure dying patients receive the best possible care at the end of their lives.


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