The survey, carried out by the BMJ and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, also found that over 97% of consultants thought that the pathway allows patients to die with dignity when used correctly and that 90% would choose to be supported by the LCP when they die.
Almost three quarters (74%) thought that recent negative press coverage had led to less use of the LCP. Of these consultants, 60% said patients and relatives had asked them not to use it and 80% said staff were apprehensive about relatives’ complaints.
Almost all doctors (98%) did not think that pressure on beds or other resources had influenced decisions to use the pathway. However, only 13% of all doctors agreed that hospitals should be offered financial incentives for using the pathway.
78% of palliative medicine consultants thought that doctors and nurses were able to judge when a patient was dying, but doctors in other specialties thought that only 69% of relevant healthcare professionals were trained in the use of the LCP at their workplace.
Restoring public confidence
Help the Hospices hopes the findings of this survey go some way to restoring public confidence and help people receive the care at the end of life that they need. David Praill, chief executive, said: “People deserve confidence in the care they receive at the end of life. Recent media coverage around end of life care has been sensationalist and has risked causing unnecessary distress to people at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
“The survey does raise concerns over training and lack of understanding of Liverpool Care Pathway by healthcare professionals, which must be addressed.
“Hospices can share learning about identifying patients most likely to benefit from being on the pathway, as well as the structures and processes which will ensure its best use.
“Hospices are well placed to share their expertise in working and talking with patients and families to achieve common goals for care at the end of life, and support for bereaved families and carers.
“We look forward to working with the independent review of the LCP chaired by Baroness Neuberger to guide future use and development of the LCP. We will continue to work with our network of more than 200 local hospices to help them to improve the standard of care that people at the end of life receive in hospitals, care homes and in the community.”
An independent review of the Liverpool Care Pathway was launched to investigate concerns around its use and last month there was a public call for evidence, asking members of the public to share their positive and negative experiences of the LCP.
So far two public sessions with families and carers has been announced – in Leeds on 20 March and Preston on 16 May – with more to follow. Anyone wishing to attend one of these sessions can send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
The finding from the survey will also feature in Channel 4’s Dispatches, broadcasting tonight (4 March) at 8pm.