Dignity in Dying welcomes plans to update the NHS Constitution to ensure that patients, and where appropriate families and carers, are consulted on end-of-life care decisions.
“Respecting a dying patient’s wishes is central to ensuring dignity at the end of life.”
Dignity in Dying today welcomed plans to update the NHS Constitution to ensure that patients, and where appropriate families and carers, are consulted on end-of-life care decisions. Dignity in Dying also welcomed planned changes to the Constitution which underline that compassion, dignity and respect are central values of the NHS.
In recent weeks there has been considerable media coverage on end-of-life care and specifically the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP). The LCP aims to minimise unnecessary suffering at the end of life, and can involve ceasing to artificially hydrate and feed a patient who is close to death. The purpose being neither to artificially prolong life nor to hasten death, but to ensure that the dying patient is as comfortable as possible. Nevertheless, there are understandable concerns that some people have been placed on the pathway without proper consultation.
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:
“Respecting a dying patient’s wishes is central to ensuring dignity at the end of life. Some people may wish to prolong life as long as is feasibly possible, whilst others will not want the dying process to be protracted. A clearer framework for identifying patients’ wishes and ensuring that their loved ones are updated will help to alleviate people’s concerns and ensure that good practice becomes universal across all care settings.
“Ironically, some of those calling most loudly for loved ones to be consulted on end of life care decisions have previously rejected providing greater patient choice at the end of life on the grounds that dying people may be influenced by malign family members. Our view is that families and carers should be consulted – the overwhelming majority will only be concerned about what is in the best interests of their loved one. However, the greatest safeguard against abuse is for healthcare professionals to ask patients directly what their wishes are, and if this is not possible to respect their wishes as set out in an Advance Decision, and promote advance decision making where appropriate.”
Notes to editor:
Dignity in Dying:
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
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