The Liverpool Care Pathway And The Law

How is this legal?

After the Tony Bland case (Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789) the law in the UK changed radically. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 permits the removal of “treatment” in patients that don’t have mental capacity, which since Tony Bland includes food and fluids delivered by tube, and in certain cases, by spoon.

This new sedation-and-dehydration regime allows a legal framework for the LCP to withdraw food and water, and put “dying” patients into a comatose state.

The law fails to recognise that food and water are in a patient’s best interest if they have been requested.

However, it is still REQUIRED (but not lawful, the Minister has stated that this should happen) that a hospital get the informed consent of a patient or relative before putting them on the LCP. Unfortunately, this has been found, according to both personal stories and the official LCP Audit, not to be happening most of the time.

But why does no one get arrested if the law is abused?

Despite the number of personal stories that have come out, and all other evidence that the LCP is not being used as it suggests, no one so far has ever been prosecuted for murder. This is because the law is on the hospital’s side now. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 shifts responsibility from the medical profession to attorneys.

HOSPITALS,CARE HOMES AND STATE OFFICIALS ARE ALSO PROTECTED now because of the COURT OF PROTECTION, which deals with vulnerable persons covered by the Mental Capacity Act. All it’s rulings are made in secret.

What is the Court of Protection?

The Court of Protection is a branch of the high court. It was set up in 2005 under the Mental Capacity Act to handle jurisdiction over the property, financial affairs and personal welfare of people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. All its rulings are made in secret. This makes it very difficult for any abuses in the system to be investigated.

Journalist Christopher Booker talked on the 24th of April about the “scores of families” who have been victimised by the Court of Protection but that he is forbidden from reporting. Doing so would be seen as contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment.

He was, however, able to report on two cases, which he implied were mild compared to other cases that he is aware of. In one case a woman, Wonda Maddock was sentences to 5 months imprisonment in secret, for trying to rescue her father from a home where he was life was in danger. She was sentenced despite not being present for the judge’s ruling and not having representation. In the second case a family were forbidden from seeing their mother, based on letters the mother had supposedly written stating she did not want to be visited by her family. This was despite expert evidence that the letters were a forgery.


“Jailed in secret – for trying to rescue their father from care home”

Legal Cases

There are however some on-going case. For example, Mr Tulloch requested a police probe after his 83-year-old mother died in hospital when her food and fluids were withdrawn without his permission. Tulloch commented, “She was far from being dead,” having been conscious and smiling only hours before being put on the LCP.

The legalities and infringements go on and on, as do the deaths as a result of the LCP it does seem that even when those with knowledge and authority speak their contribution falls on deaf ears. We leave you with the words of Lord Carlile writing in the TELEGRAPH on 23rd January 2013,

Doctors who put their patients on a controversial end-of-life care plan without their consent should face being struck off.
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 sanctions available to the GMC include being struck off.”