Scotland is to phase out a system of caring for dying patients over the course of the next year, it has been confirmed.
The Scottish government took the decision after considering recommendations put forward by the Living and Dying Well National Advisory Group, which has been considering the Liverpool Care Pathway issue for some time.
A review of the pathway in England earlier this year found it had not always been used appropriately by the NHS.
The Living and Dying Well National Advisory Group has made a series of proposals about what will be required to ensure learning from the LCP review is implemented in Scotland - for which a working group will now be established.
“While standards of end-of-life care in Scotland are generally very high, the aim of improving care in the last days and hours of life to ensure that everyone has a dignified death is a priority for the Scottish government and NHS Scotland,” commented cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing Alex Neil.
“When the LCP was introduced, the aim was to support the delivery of high quality care by all clinical teams providing care in the final days and hours of life. This aim is as relevant today as it ever was.
“The expert group looking at this issue has recommended phasing out the LCP and setting up a new group to develop an alternative.”
Comprehensive guidance is expected to be in place within a year. In the meantime, interim guidance on caring for people in the last days and hours of life has been issued to all Scottish health boards.
The guidance has a strong emphasis on good, consistent communications by medical professionals with families and loved ones of patients. This includes supporting members of staff to speak to patients and their relatives openly and honestly to avoid misunderstandings and distress.