Death On The Wards: Channel 4 Dispatches


Tonight Dispatches investigates the allegations that tens of thousands of seriously ill people have been put on the road to death in a way likened to that of legalised euthanasia. Dispatches hears claims from families that doctors have thoughtlessly killed off patients with months or even years still left to live.

We hear testimonies and stories from specialists in the field, terminally ill patients and victims families, and the results of a survey of thousands of doctors into how the process of dying is managed in UK hospitals, the first of its kind, are revealed.

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is intended to ease the painful process of dying for both patients and families, in which a key principle is not to treat a patient’s underlying condition if the treatment is judged to be unlikely to work or harmful to the patient. The introduction of official guidelines now mean that every hospital and hospice must have an approved end of life pathway, and that of the LCP seems to be by far the most prevalent.


Around 130,000 people died after being placed on the LCP last year and many of us can expect for our deaths and the deaths of our loved ones to be managed using the pathway, albeit with the hugely controversial nature of the process. People with illnesses such as strokes, as well as those with terminal cancer are being put on the pathway, leading some families to claim that their relatives could and should have lived longer.

Tonight, 8pm, Channel 4. Leave your comments below.

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One Response to “Death On The Wards: Channel 4 Dispatches”

  1. Thomas Smith says:

    My wife died two weeks ago of advanced Breast Cancer. She had spent five weeks in hospital when a tumor broke her back and had radiotherapy and surgery for spinal chord decompression. She came home and never walked again and I and a nursing agency looked after at home. When she got home, she told me she had lost the will to go on and live from having her diagnosis in 2009 and countless amounts of chemo and radiotherapy since. She knew by not eating and taking little water, she would die before too long. She was valiant and courageous in her practical approach to her own death, making me sit beside the bed to hear her last wishes and be told what I had to do to look after myself without her.
    She had already researched the LPCP an was aware of the implications. However, the decision has to be the patients, as she knew. After five weeks without food and five days with very limited water, she died in her sleep as i approached her bed for the last time.
    She was told by the oncologist that she may have lived for another three months, but at what cost to he sanity and health. Her wish was to die at home, with me by her side and not in pain – all of those wishes, by the grace of God were met.
    I am heartbroken and bereft at the loss of my soul mate, best friend and companion for over 36 years – but I know SHE chose the way she wanted to die, based on the LCP approach.
    Hospital is no place to end your life and I thank God I was able to look after her to the very end at home, despite the distress and heartbrake I felt every day.
    As I said, it has to be the patients decision, not the Doctor, nor (the often) too many family members trying to have their way.
    Death is not pleasant for anyone regardless of the cause, you can only hope that your loved ones last days are as comfortable and pain free as possible and in truth this is all you can ask of the medical profession to provide.