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Pathway 'an excuse for poor care'
Doctors have used a controversial end-of-life care regime "as an excuse for poor-quality care", an independent review has concluded.
Experts have recommended that the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) should be axed.
They say the regime should be phased out over the next six to 12 months and be replaced with a personalised end-of-life care plan for each individual patient.
The LCP - which recommends that in some circumstances doctors withdraw treatment, food and water from sedated patients in their final days - has come under intense scrutiny.
Reports have suggested that doctors have been establishing "death lists" of patients to be put on the pathway. There have also been suggestions that hospitals might be employing the method to cut costs and save bed spaces.
But medics have argued that the pathway has "transformed" end-of-life care, saying it can offer peaceful, pain-free deaths when used properly.
The independent review into the regime found that while the LCP can offer "high-quality and compassionate care", there were "too many cases" where it was "incorrectly implemented".
The regime was introduced with the aim of helping doctors and nurses provide quality care for patients during their final hours and days of life.
But, following criticism of the regime, health officials recently commissioned a review into the use of the LCP at hospitals and care homes.
The review of the pathway, chaired by crossbench peer Baroness Julia Neuberger, has heard evidence from patients, families and health professionals. They concluded that there were "too many cases where the LCP was simply being used as a 'tick box' exercise."