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One in four GPs remain reluctant to discuss death with patients

A quarter of GPs are still reluctant to discuss death with patients, a survey by a palliative care organisation has revealed.

The survey of 1,003 GPs by ComRes for the Dying Matters coalition, a group led by the National Council for Palliative Care, found that one in four GPs had not initiated any discussion with patients about their end-of-life wishes, despite NHS figures showing that on average 20 of a GP’s patients die each year.

The research also shows that 1% of GPs would choose to die in hospital, compared with 6% of the 2,055 people from the general public surveyed.

Meanwhile, 40% of GPs in the UK say they have talked to someone about their own end-of-life wishes.

Professor Mayur Lakhani, chair of the Dying Matters Coalition and former RCGP chair, said: ‘Discussing dying is rarely easy, but unless we have the conversations that matter we’re unlikely to get the right care and support. Although it’s encouraging that increasing numbers of doctors are discussing end-of-life wishes with patients to help get them the right care and support, there’s still a long way to go.’

‘What we need now is a national conversation about dying, so that healthcare professionals and the general public become more comfortable in discussing dying, death and bereavement. Dying matters, so let’s talk about it.’

Last year, Pulse ran a survey that revealed almost half of GPs do not trust NHS to give them a ‘good death’.