Lord calls for consent over end-of-life plan
DOCTORS who put patients on a controversial end-of-life care plan without their consent should face being struck off, said a legal expert.
Lord Carlile of Berriew said too many patients were being denied drugs, food and water in their last days of life without having given their ‘informed consent’.
He called for the Liverpool Care Pathway to be replaced, comparing it to the River Styx, which marked the threshold to the underworld in Greek mythology.
Lord Carlile, a QC and the former independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said many doctors acted ‘with great care’ when placing patients on the pathway.
However, standards varied to a ‘worrying’ degree, leading to ‘very serious problems’.
“Obviously, consent is obtained in many cases but, the point is, it is not being obtained in some cases and that is unacceptable,” he said.
“Doctors who fail to inform their patients of any serious procedure, or their relatives if the patient is not of full [mental] capacity, are committing serious misconduct and therefore it would be a matter for the GMC to deal with such cases.”
The Pathway was criticised by the family of Musosa Kazembe, a distinguished journalist who died at the hospital just over a year ago after spending weeks on the regime.
Mr Kazembe, who reported on the fight against racism across Africa and Europe, and at one time worked for the Adver, spent weeks on the Pathway and at one point woke up to ask for water.
Most patients are on the scheme for 33 hours before death.
The 74-year-old’s family said he was only given one day’s medication, two days’ food and six days’ water. The hospital has said it did its utmost to meet the family and provide them with information including medical records and to discuss their concerns.