Roy Cooper is unhappy that his wife Mary was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn and 'left to die'. Here Mr Cooper is pictured with his daughter Maxine Richardson. Picture: Ian Burt

Bereaved Norfolk families welcome Norman Lamb inquiry into controversial Liverpool Care Pathway

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
1.51 PM

Three Norfolk families who claim loved ones were put on a controversial care plan without their agreement have welcomed a investigation into hospital payments.

Care services minister Norman Lamb has ordered the independent inquiry into why hospitals have been paid tens of millions for putting patients on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

It came after a round table meeting at the Department of Health, chaired by the North Norfolk MP, which brought doctors and family members together to discuss concerns about the LCP.

“What I discovered when coming into this role is that local payments are made to hospitals for putting patients on the LCP,” the health minister said.

“The concern is that payments are being made to get more people on the pathway so I have asked for a review of this. Payments should only be made if it can be shown that it’s genuinely improving the end of life and is not just a payment for putting people on a list or a register.”

It is hoped the inquiry, which critics of the LCP say should be overseen by a High Court judge, will report back to Mr Lamb in the New Year. The North Norfolk MP has also previously unveiled new rules which could see hospitals facing legal action if patients and their families are not consulted over end-of-life care decisions.

Tens of thousands of people are placed every year on the pathway, which aims to ensure that the “right type of care is available for people in the last days or hours of life when all of the possible reversible causes for their condition have been considered”.

Denise Charlesworth-Smith, who lives in Brookville, near Methwold, was one of those invited to attend the meeting in London on Monday.

Mrs Charlesworth-Smith has been calling for the government to take action since, she claims, her father was placed on the LCP without any consultation with her family. Her 82-year-old father, Phil, was admitted to King’s Mill hospital in Nottinghamshire in January with breathing problems and died five days later after being put on the LCP. “Handing out money because someone is on the LCP is wrong,” she said.

Roy Cooper’s wife Mary died on August 13, after spending eight weeks at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn.

Mrs Cooper, from Clench-warton, was taken to the Lynn-based hospital on June 19 after collapsing with low blood sugar levels and Mr Cooper claimed no-one at the hospital explained the care plan to him. Backing Mr Lamb’s inquiry announcement, the Clenchwarton resident said: “I just can’t believe hospitals get money for doing that – it’s disgusting.”

Meanwhile, Terrington St Clement resident Janet Davies has also welcomed the announcement by the health minister and said it was a “step in the right direction”.

Her 83-year-old husband, Colin, died from septicaemia on November 8, 2010 after being in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a month.

He had been put on the care plan for two days before being removed and dying two weeks later. Mrs Davies believes two days without food and drink played a crucial part in her husband’s death.