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Opt-out hits palliative care

GPs' out-of-hours opt-out has had a damaging effect on provision of palliative care, new figures included in a Government report reveal.

A survey of GPs reveals that only 37 per cent are satisfied with their local palliative care services – but just 16 per cent are now providing care to their own patients out-of-hours.

GPs also expressed declining confidence in district nurses' competencies, knowledge and communication about palliative care patients.

The survey data was included in a Department of Health document outlining a plan to improve end-of-life care, with new funding for hospices and specialist care services.

Professor Julia Addington-Hall, professor in end of life care at the University of Southampton and a researcher on the survey, said: 'The results suggest there is increased tension between GPs and district nurses. This is further evidence of the problems caused by GPs opting out of out-of-hours.'

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