Up to 50pc of deaths at Mid-Staffs NHS trust on Care Pathway
UP to 50 per cent of patients dying at the scandal-hit Mid-Staffordshire NHS trust have been placed on a controversial “pathway” to death, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
Up to 50pc of deaths at Mid-Staffs NHS trust on Care Pathway Photo: GETTY
By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor
6:00AM GMT 15 Feb 2013
Figures disclosed by the hospital under the Freedom of Information Act show that use of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) rose markedly in the wake of the introduction of targets promoting its use in 2009.
The system of care, intended to give patients greater dignity and less pain in the final hours of their lives, is under review after claims that medical staff across the UK had put people in it without proper safeguards.
It involves removing treatments deemed to be more harmful than helpful including, where appropriate, reducing food and fluids.
But a series of families have come forward to claim that their loved ones were placed on the treatment regime without any consultation or even when they were not imminently dying.
It emerged last year that almost two thirds of trusts using the system had been receiving payouts from the state for hitting targets linked to its use.
Mid Staffordshire has been at the centre of a storm over standards in the NHS after a public inquiry into the unnecessary deaths of between 400 and 1,200 people at Mid Staffs between 2005 and 2009.
There is no evidence that any of those deaths were linked to the LCP, which was only implemented at Mid Staffs at the end of the period in question.
But the figures show that its use at the trust has risen steadily from just over one in 10 of those who died at Mid Staffs in November 2009, to 41 per cent in the same month a year later.
The use of the LCP at Mid Staffs peaked at 50 per cent of all deaths in September 2010 and has been between 20 and 30 per cent virtually every month since.
In the financial year 2009 to 2010, the trust received just under £129,000 in special performance-related payments linked to its adoption of the LCP.
Since then targets relating to the LCP have been incorporated into the hospital’s main contract so do not carry separate payments.
Overall just under 20 per cent of all patients who died at Mid Staffs in the final quarter of 2009 were on the LCP. In 2010 that rose to 29 per cent overall and in 2011 was just under a quarter.
Robert Courteney-Harris, medical director at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The purpose of the Pathway is to ensure that patients are always treated with dignity and that, wherever possible, they are involved in decisions about their care, and that carers and families are always involved in the decision-making process.
“The decision to put a patient on the Pathway is always a clinical decision, and never related to any financial incentives.
“The Liverpool Care Pathway allows patients to die with as much dignity and in as little distress as possible.
“Trust policy is that patients, carers and families should always be informed when the Pathway is being used, or when it is withdrawn.
“It is widely accepted as good practice in end-of-life care.”