GP training boosts ability to manage end-of-life care

GPs' confidence in initiating end-of-life discussions could be improved through a one-day training course, a pilot study suggests.

Elderly: helping GPs deal with end-of-life care can save the NHS money (Photograph: SPL)
Elderly: helping GPs deal with end-of-life care can save the NHS money (Photograph: SPL)

As part of a project run by the Dying Matters Coalition, 59 GPs answered questions on end-of-life issues and 25 took a course to boost communication skills in conversations about death, dying and bereavement.

The GPs then kept a record of conversations on end-of-life issues over a four-month period and rated their confidence in raising such issues.

GPs also completed audits of the situation surrounding the deaths of patients registered at their practice.

At the start of the study, 60 per cent of GPs said they were not confident starting conversations on end-of-life issues. At the end, 86 per cent said they were either 'confident' or 'very confident'.

Dying Matters Coalition chairman, former RCGP chairman Dr Mayur Lakhani, said: 'Whether GP consortia succeed or fail will depend in part on how well they commission end-of-life care and deliver the crucial outcome of a "good death" for their communities.'

Better end-of-life care can boost NHS savings, he added, by helping GPs with advance-care planning and avoiding hospital admissions.

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