Palliative care nurse defends Liverpool Care Pathway at Life and Death exhibition in Aldborough

Sue Mumford and her husband Jamie buy pillows for Hospice Ethiopia during their trip to Addis Ababa.

Sue Mumford and her husband Jamie buy pillows for Hospice Ethiopia during their trip to Addis Ababa. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

A specialist nurse who looks after dying patients has defended the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway.

Organist Ros Holden, who played music suitable for times of mourning during Aldborough Church's A Ma

Organist Ros Holden, who played music suitable for times of mourning during Aldborough Church's A Matter of Life and Death exhibition. Picture: ALEX HURRELL - Credit: Archant

Sue Mumford, an NHS community specialist palliative care nurse, based at Priscilla Bacon Lodge, Norwich, said 'sensationalist' national press coverage had caused some of her patients and their families unnecessary distress and had led to mistrust.

The death record, from Aldborough Church's parish registers, of John Gudgeon Nelson, rector of the c

The death record, from Aldborough Church's parish registers, of John Gudgeon Nelson, rector of the church from 1860-1882. He was a descendant of naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson. Rev Nelson was a noted bulb grower and a group of daffodils is named after him. - Credit: Archant

The pathway, which gives guidance on the care of people in the anticipated last 48 hours of their lives, has been heavily criticised.

Some families claim they were not informed a loved one had been placed on it by doctors, and have said dying relatives were denied food and drink.

Mrs Mumford, speaking at a Matter of Life and Death exhibition in Aldborough Church, north Norfolk, said the pathway had been used very successfully in most cases to ensure dying people received good care.


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It was very important that patients and relatives were always consulted but, unfortunately, people had latched on to the fact that some patients were not given food and drink.

Dying patients who wanted either should always be given it, said Mrs Mumford, who is church treasurer at Aldborough. But, frequently, they were unconscious in the last hours of their lives, with 'zero appetite'. While their mouths could be kept moistened with water, it was not right to try and force food into them.

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She had a copy of the Liverpool Care Pathway with her at the exhibition to discuss with anyone interested.

The weekend event, opened by care minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, included professionals such as a funeral director, care, legal and financial specialists, ready to give advice on end-of-life matters.

Church registers and memorabilia were also on show.

Mrs Mumford said 21st century people were not in touch with death as their forebears had been and the subject caused embarrassment.

She hoped the exhibition would prompt people to discuss practical and emotional aspects of death with their families. Many relatives felt guilt and distress after a death because they had not known someone's wishes.

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