Senior Catholic doctors have said that a bishops’ conference report about the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) “borders on the disingenuous” adding that it “goes to extreme lengths to align support for the LCP with Catholic teaching”.http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/20 ... e-pathway/
In response to the report, issued by a department of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Professor Patrick Pullicino, Dr Anthony Cole and Dr Philip Howard said in a joint statement: “The sufferings of patients who have been put on the LCP and their relatives is the first thing the Church should be reacting to in order to understand the great depth of anguish that this pathway has caused and the reasons for this.”
Professor Jones said that so far he had not “seen evidence to substantiate the claim that the LCP is structurally unsound or that it is inherently unethical”. But he continued: “It is clear that the LCP has frequently been badly implemented, and I hope that the Neuberger committee can identify practical ways to ensure that the LCP is implemented properly.”
In response to direct criticisms of the report’s tone and conclusion, he said: “My main emphasis was that the committee should review the evidence for itself, including the evidence from individual cases where they would be able to consider evidence that is not in the public realm.”
Professor Jones said: “As a matter of principle, I have no interest as such either in supporting or in attacking the LCP, my fundamental interest is in upholding Catholic teaching on the Gospel of life and examining the evidence of best practice in end-of-life care in that light.”
In his report Professor Jones argues that it is essential that the inquiry investigate allegations made about the LCP while listening to the pathway’s supporters.
He writes: “The most fundamental and troubling allegation against the Liverpool Care Pathway is that, in practice, it is an ‘assisted dying pathway’, that is, a framework for euthanasia by omission … this claim has been repeated in national newspapers and other media and is the basis of considerable anxiety among patients and relatives.”
He later continues in the report: “The allegation, then, is that the LCP both causes death and is intended to cause death.”
Professor Jones concludes by urging the inquiry to “undertake for itself a systematic review of the scientific literature in order to reach secure conclusions”.
“This submission has not considered in detail particular cases in which it is alleged that patients have been harmed by the misuse of the LCP. The review is urged to examine such cases in relation to whether patients supported by the LCP have been harmed, whether any such harm is due to the use of the LCP, and what corrections are needed in the light of these examples.”