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GMC may require GPs to discuss organ donation with newly-registered patients

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs may be required to ‘broach the subject' of organ donation with patients under new plans being considered by the GMC.

For the first time, the council will seek to make it a mandatory duty for all doctors to ask terminally-ill patients whether they wish to have their organs donated after death, as part of revised guidance on end of life care, due out later this year.

But GPs may also have to register if patients are interested in organ donation as part of the set of questions patients are asked during the registration process.

Jane O'Brien, head of standards at the GMC, told Pulse: ‘It's become clear that there's an appetite to draft new End of Life Treatment and Care guidance to clarify the role of the doctor in these situations.

‘We get calls from doctors asking the GMC to clarify their responsibilities around discussing organ donation with patients, so we know this is an area that doctors want advice on.

‘Intensive care doctors are used to broaching the subject of organ donation with patients and family. While we are still redrafting the guidance, we may include a paragraph outlining where doctors in other settings should start having these conversations too.'

RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said: ‘I think the GMC's view that we should have a conversation about organ donation is a sensible one but should not be prescriptive. It should be left for the GP to feel that a conversation is appropriate and not feel coerced by the GMC ruling.

‘It should not be an absolute or a must. I'm uneasy about that,' he added.

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