Recommendations include greater integration with the QOF, more GP involvement in care homes and improved out-of-hours palliative care (see box below).
Author of the report Professor Keri Thomas said end of life care was part of the core business of general practice but new challenges meant that a more consistent, systematic approach was required across primary care.
With dramatically changing demographic profiles, changing illness patterns and more protracted end of life and dying stages, she said current health and social care services were ill prepared and unready to fully meet patient needs.
‘Despite recent developments and many areas of good practice, patients still face a lottery of inconsistent, sometimes sub-optimal care. No-one is better suited to provide excellence of care than the GP and the primary care team. GPs are ideally placed to meet this challenge, but must be supported to do this.'
The RCGP has established an End of Life Care Working Group for three years to develop and implement policies relevant to all four nations of the UK.
Professor Thomas, the RCGP clinical champion in end of life care, said the strategy would aim to build on the current Gold Standard Framework, refine educational resources, support research in to best practice and strengthen team-working with nurses.
‘Care of the dying is a litmus test for the health service, and challenges general practice to respond with the best that the profession has to offer - clinical expertise, considered professionalism, personalised care and human compassion.
‘The importance of the holistic role of the GP is poised to come into its own in a way never previously encountered.'
Key points of the new strategy