An English bishop has welcomed reports that a controversial end-of-life protocol will be phased out.
In a statement issued today, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said: “On Monday July 15, the Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) led by Baroness Neuberger will be published. News reports this morning suggest that this Review will recommend that the use of the LCP be phased out from our NHS hospitals over the coming months. If this is so, I welcome this news.
“I expressed my own concerns about the LCP in a pastoral teaching message on December 8 2012. I acknowledged the honourable intentions of the LCP: the dignified care of the dying, the alleviation of suffering and pain, and the cessation of invasive treatments and unnecessary procedures.
“But I was especially concerned about its day-to-day implementation in our busy hospitals, where the pressure to save money and to utilise beds might lead to a perception that death was being hastened. Moreover, the media at the time were full of reports about patients being placed on the LCP inappropriately and families not being consulted.
“I also expressed my reservations about the LCP itself: that doctors are asked to make a definitive judgment that a patient is about to die and that feeding and hydration can be summarily withdrawn.
“The LCP has been used widely in the NHS these last years, but as I have found from the many letters written to me, not least from Catholic doctors and nurses, it has been a controversial methodology, despite its noble intentions.
“Clearly, we need a good system of end-of-life care. It is my hope and prayer that the positive aspects of the LCP model will be incorporated into whatever new arrangements are developed.
“Life from conception to natural death is God’s gift. It is sacred. Let us pray to the Lord Jesus for all doctors, nurses and health-care professionals, and ask him to bless and guide the wonderful work they do. And let us pray for those who will die today, and for ourselves too, that we will receive from the compassionate Heart of Jesus the grace of a happy death and merit at the last to hear those thrilling words from the Saviour: ‘Today, you will be with me Paradise’ (Lk 23:43).”