UK: NHS “death pathway” kills off 130K elderly patients a year

by NW Spotlight

A top doctor in the UK has warned that NHS hospitals are using end-of-life care, “death pathways”, to help elderly patients die because they are difficult to look after and take up valuable beds; “an equivalent to euthanasia.” The “death pathways” on average bring a patient to death in 33 hours. The National Health Service (NHS) is England’s publicly funded healthcare system.

Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Kent, was speaking to the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

The UK Daily Mail reported that Professor Pullicino “claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), a method of looking after terminally ill patients”. Under the LCP, doctors can withdraw treatment, food and water while patients are heavily sedated.

Because elderly patients who could live longer are put on the LCP to free up beds or because they are difficult to care for, Professor Pullicino said the LCP has become an “assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway”. The Telegraph reported that Professor Pullicino believes the LCP is being used as “an equivalent to euthanasia.” 130,000 patients a year die on the LCP.

Professor Pullicino gave an example where he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP. A 71-year-old who was admitted to the hospital suffering from pneumonia and epilepsy was put on the LCP by a doctor on a weekend shift. Professor Pullicino successfully fought to remove the patient from the “death pathway”, and the patient’s seizures came under control and four weeks later he was discharged home to his family. The 71-year-old man lived for another 14 months before he suffered pneumonia again and was admitted to a different hospital. He was put on the LCP and died five hours later.