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Dignity in Dying urges doctors to put patients at the heart of their end of life decisions

In response to the Telegraph article ‘Sentenced to death on the NHS’ Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“People approaching the end of life need to feel confident that their wishes will be respected and that they will be given the best care possible. All efforts to improve the care and support available to dying patients should be welcomed – including programmes such as the Liverpool Care Pathway, which aims to bring the best practice of hospice care to patients dying in hospital.

“However, further research on the practice of the Liverpool Care Pathway is needed. The recent finding that in 16.5% of cases in the UK doctors used continuous deep sedation with patients at the end of life is concerning. This figure is significantly higher than in other countries. It is important to know whether patients are requesting sedation, and if sedation is being given with their consent. Patient choice and control should be at the heart of all treatment decisions at the end of life.

“The concerns raised in the Telegraph suggest that some health care professionals need further training in the care of dying patients and on communication with both patients at the end of life, and their families and loved ones.”