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GPs cautious on end-of-life actions

UK doctors are highly cautious of actions that significantly shorten terminally ill patients' lives, results from the most comprehensive survey to date show.

Doctors' opinions on end-of- life decisions highlight the presence of 'a strong palliative care philosophy in the UK', the researchers said.

Results from 857 medical practitioners – both GPs and hospital specialists – found UK doctors were 'relatively cautious in shortening life by more than a few days' compared with colleagues in other countries (Palliative Medicine, October).

Study leader Professor Clive Seale, professor of sociology at Brunel University, said: 'UK doctors are very reluctant to take decisions to shorten life, but in terms of sharing decisions UK doctors are pretty good.

'They are pretty patient-

centred and they are cautious about ending life by a significant amount of time.'

He added this new report on the survey – some results of which were reported by Pulse earlier this year – should not

be misinterpreted as meaning most doctors help end the lives of terminally ill patients.

'It is important not to confuse end-of-life decisions with voluntary euthanasia,' Professor Seale said.

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