Patients are still dying of thirst, while “comatose” from excessive doses of Midazolam and Morphine

By Melanie Symonds


Prof Sam Ahmedzai
Prof Sam Ahmedzai hopes for changes
in palliative care practice

NHS patients are still routinely dying of thirst and even starvation, while under a “chemical cosh” of Midazolam and Morphine.

Despite the “now infamous” Liverpool Care Pathway being scrapped in 2014, it has reappeared in different guises, a new report reveals.

The 234-page report from the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group says: “Excessive and inappropriate use of Midazolam and Morphine, rendering a patient comatose, coupled with the withdrawal of food and hydration, have combined to impose a death sentence from which, in the current climate, there is no right of appeal.”

Families were “stunned at the inhumane treatment suffered by their relations”

It speaks of a “fatal combination” of misdiagnoses as to quality of life, together with “a failure to appreciate the respect and care required for those approaching their last days”.

The report details 16 medically analysed and validated accounts between 2012-2021, out of over 600 complaints by bereaved relatives. Details were provided by families left “stunned at the inhumane treatment suffered by their relations”.

The cases have been analysed medically by Emeritus Professor of Palliative Medicine Sam Ahmedzai.

At the report’s House of Commons launch on 7 March, Prof Ahmedzai said: “Withdrawal of hydration occurred in no less than ten of the report’s 16 cases and families said they were forbidden to even approach the patient with a glass…in one case heart failure medications were taken away so the patient deteriorated within days.”

Cases included a man who died after going to hospital with constipation and a girl of 21 with severe learning difficulties who died three and a half weeks after a routine operation, although her family had begged for her to be fed.

Barrister James Bogle
Barrister James Bogle specialises in clinical negligence cases

Barrister James Bogle, who specialises in clinical negligence, has written a legal overview of the cases and told those attending the launch that a criminal case might be needed to bring the negligence to wider public attention and effect change.

He said: “The representative cases selected make harrowing reading. There is a culture in our health service that we thought had passed with the Liverpool Care Pathway – but it hasn’t.”

Rev Lynda Rose
Rev Lynda Rose: “We want to empower families”

The report’s main author, Rev Lynda Rose of VfJUK, concluded: “These were all people who wanted to live. We want to bring this report to the attention of lawmakers and to empower families.”

She recommends the use of a ‘ReSPECT’ form that expresses your wishes in the event of being hospitalised. Standing for ‘Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment’, the two-page form should be discussed with your doctor and taken to medical appointments.

A petition called ‘Managed death – stop end of life abuse!’ can be signed at

The report, ‘When end of life care goes wrong’ includes the ReSPECT form and can be ordered for £13.99 from or Voice for Justice UK, PO Box 8893, OX1 9PY

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