Feature Liverpool Care Pathway

Inquiry launched into newspaper story about babies on “death pathway”

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1273 (Published 01 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1273
  1. Sophie Arie, freelance journalist
  1. 1London, UK
  1. sophiearie{at}fmail.co.uk

Sophie Arie examines how misunderstanding led to a children’s hospital becoming embroiled in media outcry about the Liverpool care pathway

In November 2012, amid a long campaign to expose misuse of the Liverpool care pathway (LCP), the Daily Mail newspaper ran a front page story entitled “Now sick babies go on death pathway.”1

The story claimed that NHS hospitals were discharging sick children and babies to hospices or their homes, where food and fluid were withdrawn until they died.

Several complaints over major inaccuracies were made at the time, including by the BMJ. The Press Complaints Commission has since received 10 more complaints and recently launched an inquiry into the story.

The centre piece was a doctor’s anonymous testimony—billed as “doctor admits starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in neonatal unit.” But that testimony—which was first published in the BMJ2—came from a physician practising in another country, although the location was not disclosed to protect the families involved.

The article went on to allege incorrectly that Alder Hey …

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