On what planet is it OK to starve sick, elderly people to death and deny them water? Last week Tory MP Fiona Bruce told how her dad of 83 was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway without her knowledge. She took him off it and six months later he’s thriving.
More than 130,000 people a year are now dying on the LCP, 60,000 of them without family consent. It’s a death that can be agonising and slow. So how can doctors whose job it is to SAVE lives think that’s a “dignified” way to die, which is what the LCP was created for?
It shames our NHS because it’s become a licence to kill. And there’s a name for that...
I GOT an email from a nurse I’ll call Nicola this week. She wrote after seeing my piece on the Liverpool Care Pathway calling herself “a proud and compassionate nurse using the LCP”.
I’m telling you about Nicola because she highlights the terrifying ignorance of some of the medics helping to end the lives of the people we love.
First, she described the LCP as “a tool.” A pretty callous description of a procedure that kills people – often by starving them to death and denying them water. A procedure which was designed to ease the suffering of terminally ill people close to death but is now being investigated amid claims hospitals are using it as a form of euthanasia and are getting fat bonuses to reach “LCP death” targets.
Nicola however refuses to accept that anyone gets paid to end people’s lives and dismissed the claims, saying she can see the “hidden agenda” and that all statistics can be manipulated . Eh?
How come she doesn’t she know that two- thirds of ALL NHS Trusts get millions of pounds to “kill off” a sizeable percentage of their patients. How come she doesn’t know some of them are so vigorous in the pursuit of their LCP targets that they’re actually exceeding them and getting even more cash?
Nicola insists it’s only terminally-ill patients who are put on the LCP – which simply isn’t true and one of the reasons that it is being investigated.
“The LCP is a piece of paper that cannot possibly kill anyone,” she says. Nope I have no idea what she’s talking about either.
However, she and all those other medics walking round with blinkers on might like to ponder on the 130,000 people who were “killed” on the pathway last year and of the 60,000 families who were never even told their loved ones were on it.
And why aren’t nurses and doctors questioning this legal form of euthanasia?
Haven’t they read the harrowing stories from devastated relatives? Stories like the one from Sally, who wrote to me saying she will never forgive herself for being pressurised into putting her Mum on the LCP by doctors. “Please tell others NOT to be,” she says.
Hasn’t she read the stories of food and fluids withdrawn from people who weren’t even dying – but who then did because of it?
Probably not. Because as Nicola insists: “Nowhere in the LCP does it say food and fluids should be withdrawn.” But of course it does “if it’s deemed to be in the best interests of the patient.” And who decides that? Oh yes, doctors and nurses.
But it’s the arrogance of this nurse and medics like her who insist that what they’re doing is right and shouldn’t be questioned. And that what THEY want to happen to our loved ones should take precedence over what WE want... because as another nurse told me: “I’m a nurse and I know.”
Well maybe they should listen to the people in their own profession. To eminent cancer specialist Mark Glaser who insists the LCP is being used by the NHS to free up beds. To Prof Patrick Pullicino who claims patients who aren’t terminally ill are routinely put on it. To the Association of Palliative Medicine, which has launched a review into the LCP amid claims hospitals are abusing it to make money.
It’s arrogance in the extreme for doctors and nurses to think they have the right to decide who lives and who dies – especially if death comes with a financial incentive and because some elderly people have become a drain on the hospital budget.
This pathway was supposed to afford (only) the terminally ill a dignified death, but it’s become a licence to kill the elderly, the infirm and the vulnerable.
It shames our NHS and everything it stands for.
- PLEASE let me know your experiences of the LCP.Did it end in a good death or a bad death for your loved one? And did you agree to it?