Why GPs and patients need to talk more openly about death

 

 

By Dr Lucy Pocock, GP Career Progression Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Dealing with death is part of the job description for all doctors. For those working in general practice, this often means planning ahead, with GPs encouraged to keep a register of patients thought to be in the last year of their life.

One reason for this is to identify which patients might benefit from palliative and supportive care – the kind of care which focuses on symptom control, rather than cure. At the moment, these registers appear to consist mainly of patients with cancer. Yet most people (72%) in England don’t actually die of cancer. So why aren’t other dying patients being registered?

To answer this question, it is helpful to think about how we die. As a GP, I can often predict, to some degree, a decline … Read more

Why doctors need to improve the way we discuss assisted dying

Dr Paul Teed
PhD candidate
Centre for Academic Primary Care 
University of Bristol
@DrPaulTeed

Assisted dying can be a divisive and polarising subject. But there is one aspect on which most people probably agree – the need to improve the conversations people have about death.

At the moment, there is uncertainty in the UK regarding what people – especially health professionals – can and cannot say when the topic of assisted dying comes up. Conversation can become especially stilted when it turns to patients obtaining the medical documentation required for an assisted death abroad.

The situation requires clarification. Currently, if a doctor in the UK writes a specific report to help with an assisted death abroad (three organisations in Switzerland accept UK citizens), the General Medical Council (GMC) may view this as a “fitness to practice” issue.

However, if a doctor provides copies of medical records, even with the … Read more