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GP end-of-life care training improves confidence

By Alisdair Stirling

Patients want to discuss end-of-life care with their GPs and receive better care when they do, a survey suggests.

A pilot project in which 59 GPs recorded their conversations with patients about death, dying and bereavement concluded that 60% of GPs were not confident in talking about end-of-life care with patients to start with.

However, 90% of patients surveyed chose to continue the conversation when their GP initiated it, the project by the Dying Matters Coalition set up by the National Council for Palliative Care showed.

Patients who talked about their preferences with their GP were significantly more likely to be placed appropriately on the end-of-life register and have their preferred place of death and care preferences added to their medical records.

Professor Mayur Lakhani, chairman of Dying Matters and a GP, said: ‘The GP is often the first port of call for people seeking reassurance and advice on discussing end-of-life preferences.

‘Dying badly can lead to unnecessary anxiety, guilt and depression amongst those left behind but this study has shown that with the right training and materials GPs can make a huge difference.’

A pilot improved GP confidence in tackling end of life decisions