To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to assess the (a) safety and (b) consistency of the approach of the NHS in prescribing drugs to frail and elderly patients in terminal care; and what steps he has taken to assess whether such treatment is at all times in the best interest of the patients.
It is for local national health service services to ensure they are operating safely taking account of best practice guidance. The General Medical Council's guidance "Good Practice in Prescribing Medicines" gives detailed guidance for doctors on prescribing medicines, and makes it clear that prescribing must be appropriate and undertaken in the patient's best interests.
The Department published a national End of Life Care Strategy in 2008, which aims to improve care for all adults from diagnosis through to bereavement. The Strategy sets out the need to engage actively with people at the end of life, and their families and carers, in care planning.
This enables patients to make choices about the care they receive, including medication to control their symptoms and about advance decisions to refuse treatment, in line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.