National review launched into GP role in end-of-life care

End-of-life care run by GPs will be reviewed for the first time as part of a survey that will feed into developing the NHS Outcomes Framework.

The survey of 49,000 people’s end-of-life care experiences in England will be run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) with findings available by the end of March 2012.

Dr Julie Messer, a researcher at the ONS said questions focussed on all aspects of care, including GPs’ contribution.

Relatives of patients who have recently died will be asked about urgent and out-of-hours care from GPs and about how often patients were able to see their preferred GP.

Relatives will also be asked: ‘How much of the time was he treated with respect and dignity by the GPs?’ and ‘Were you able to discuss any worries and fears you may have had about his condition, treatment or tests with the GPs?’

Other questions relate to the integration of care provided by GPs with hospital services.

A pilot study of the survey found that it was a sensitive measure of patients’ and relatives’ experiences.

Results of the pilot were published in July and showed that the survey was able to detect differences across PCTs, care settings and causes and places of death.

The ONS said it would provide ‘an opportunity for those who have cared for a loved one at the end of their life to make a real contribution to improving services for others’.

‘Findings from the survey will support the NHS Outcomes Framework and the need to gather information to monitor service delivery and further inform service improvements for end-of-life care,’ Dr Messer told GP.

‘The ONS and DoH will be working closely together to ensure that the information is disseminated appropriately to care organisations and providers at local level subject to confidentiality safeguards.’

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