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NICE urges doctors to treat dying patients as individuals

End-of-life care in England must be tailored to the needs of dying patients rather than a “tick-box approach”, the health watchdog NICE says.

Patients must be treated with respect and compassion, it said, and doctors should avoid making “snap decisions” about whether someone was dying.

The guidance is designed to address misuse of the previous system, the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Charities welcomed the new guidelines – but warned more investment was needed.

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was introduced in the late 1990s, in an attempt to ensure people had a dignified and comfortable death.

Among other things, it involved checklists prompting staff to consider whether invasive procedures, drips and drugs should be withdrawn from people in the last stages of life.

But it was phased out last year after a government-commissioned review revealed serious concerns that it was being used in the wrong way, leading to a “tick-box” culture.

‘Individualised approach’

The new wide-ranging guidelines – the first national guidelines to be introduced in England – cover many of the same key principles as the LCP.

While NICE acknowledged the majority of people are given good care, the watchdog called for a stronger focus on individual plans for each patient, saying their wishes and those of their family must be central.

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