This British Health Authorities’ committee sent a directive in July to doctors and nurses instructing them to “stop killing patients by depriving them of water, food and treatment”. A protocol entitled “pathway to death” or “Liverpool care pathway” involves the practice of euthanasia by depriving patients of medication, food and drink. It is still used in “a number of British hospitals” as observed by associations who are called in to help cancer patients and the Royal College of Nursing”. These forms of euthanasia were performed without the permission of patients or their families.
The National Health Service directive (NHS – United Kingdom Public Health system) “recommends that, from now on, any terminally ill or vulnerable patient should be hydrated according to his/her wishes if compatible with his/her conditions and that no-one should die of thirst”. Health officials also encourage “a new approach to treatment for the terminally ill, promoting close collaboration between families and teams of experts”.
The publication of this directive was followed by a guide for hospital staff, to off-set a lack of information amongst carers.
The association which defends the rights of patients and their families, CAPP (Concerned Association of Patients and Providers) commented as follows, “It is shocking to think that this has to be spelled out to doctors and nurses”.
Paradoxically, in this country where the concept of “palliative care” was first introduced with Cicely Saunders, the fact is alarming:
- “Almost 92,000 people in England are deprived of palliative care every year, often because health care professionals fail to recognise that people’s lives are drawing to a close”.
- “Carers and treatment for the people in the final stage of life could be improved for over 350,000 people every year”.
- “Pointless suffering!”, “excessively long patient management times”, “poor communication between health care personnel”, “’appalling’ shortcomings in terms of care administered to people in residential homes for the elderly or suffering from dementia”, “shortage of staff highlighted in 1 out of 5 establishments”.
This new directive has been welcomed by health care staff following “the devastating experience with the Liverpool care pathway”. Subject to controversy, this pathway was developed during the 1990s and was “officially abandoned 1 year ago”.