Step by grudging step – and led by this paper – official Britain has begun to wake up to the scandal of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
The LCP is intended to ease the final hours of patients who are close to death and to spare them the suffering associated with invasive treatment.
Numerous relatives have claimed, however, that their loved ones were put on the Pathway – which involves the withdrawal of food and fluids as well as medical treatment – without their consent.
Far worse, they claimed that some of these patients were not in fact dying when they were put on the Pathway, but were then starved and dehydrated to death as a result.
On Saturday, for example, the Mail told the story of 82-year-old Patricia Greenwood, who was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway by doctors in Blackpool, who removed all her feeding tubes and drips.
But then her family defied orders and gave her water, which sparked the beginning of a remarkable recovery. Now she is planning to go on a world cruise.
The controversy over the LCP was given fresh impetus in the summer when a group of doctors, led by neurologist Professor Patrick Pullicino from the University of Kent, claimed that death on the LCP was a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and a form of backdoor euthanasia, being used to get rid of difficult patients and to free hospital beds.
As such claims mounted, the reaction by the medical establishment was to dismiss them out of hand.