The recent Dying Matters report on GPs' conversations with patients about death, dying and bereavement highlights how central communication is to improving end-of-life care.
The NHS's National End of Life Care Programme is supporting the next phase of this work.
Communication is the first ‘step' on the six-step end-of-life care pathway precisely because care planning, assessment and how and where the patient receives care flows from it.
This is confirmed in a survey finding patients who talk about their preferences with their GP were significantly more likely to be placed on an end-of-life register and to die in the place of their choosing.
However, access to the training which can help GPs and other health professionals to develop or hone these skills remains problematic, a recent pilot study funded by the National End of Life Care Programme suggests.
It found wider access to high-quality training would help deliver the cultural change required to overcome traditional taboos around talking about these matters.
The final findings of the 12 pilots were brought together in a report in January called Talking about end-of-life care: right conversations, right people, right time.
This and the interim report can be found by visiting this website.
From Claire Henry
Director, National End of Life Care Programme