2013-04-04 17:41:56

Bishop Egan applauds health policy changes

(Vatican Radio) The British government has revised its rules on end-of-life care, and set up a review of the “Liverpool Care Pathway” (LCP) – a program that coordinates palliative services for those in the final hours and days of life.

“The Liverpool Care Pathway is a process, a set of protocols to care for the dying in our hospitals, particularly in the National Health Service and in care homes. But it’s been, in the last, well really in the last 18 months a lot of controversy regarding it,” said the Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, in an interview with Vatican Radio’s Christopher Wells.

Bishop Egan said, “It’s good to have care of the dying conducted in this way in our hospitals.” Nonetheless, he expressed reservations about some aspects of the program. In particular, Bishop Egan had said he was concerned about the government offering financial “incentives” to place people on the Liverpool Care Pathway. He said he was “delighted” with the government’s decision to stop those payments.

He also expressed his gratitude that the government was reviewing the procedures of the LCP.

He spoke about some of the other concerns with the program. “One of my other concerns has been that sometimes relatives of terminally ill patients haven’t been fully involved in the decision making process and the care, the medical care and also of course the spiritual care that needs to go with that, particularly for Catholic patients. A few months ago, the government here implemented a review of the Liverpool Care Pathway, and I think this is one of the concerns that they seem to acknowledge and seem to be involved in.”

Bishop Egan also spoke about how the determination was made that someone was near death. “Maybe I would just one further concern I have, and that is the medical judgment that somebody is about today is a very vexed and difficult judgment to make. I have had some concerns relating to the actual procedures involved in making that judgment. But of course I’m not a medic and I’m not an expert. I just speak as a concerned pastor.”

Despite some reservations, Bishop Egan spoke highly of the program, and especially about caregivers. “I think our hospitals, our medical staff, and those who care for the sick and the dying do an absolutely magnificent job. And I’m very keen that we concentrate particularly in our bidding prayers at Mass, the intercessions, that we frequently pray for the sick and for those who care for them.”

He said he hope the government review would result in better care for the dying. “As I’ve also said before, it’s a controversial thing, this LCP, but nevertheless its intentions are truly honourable ones and I’m just very hopeful that the present review and one or two adjustments will fine-tune it and make it even better.”

Listen to the full interview of Bishop Philip Egan with Christopher Wells: RealAudioMP3

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