Conversations about end of life wishes 'crucial' part of general practice, says RCGP

Responding to a report by the Care Quality Commission on DNACPR decisions during the pandemic, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Conversations with patients about their wishes at or near the end of their lives are an essential part of general practice - and advance care directives, also known as advance care plans, are key to ensuring their wishes are met.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made many people think about death and dying sooner than they may have otherwise done, and it is right that during the pandemic GPs have continued to have these conversations about what matters most for patients. The College has been clear that any decision to complete an advance care directive or Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) must involve the patient and those important to the person - and made in a sensitive, fair and equitable way, carefully considering their individual circumstances and needs.

“Having timely, personalised, and high-quality discussions with patients and those important to them about what matters most at the end-of-life is crucial. It’s important that GPs and their teams feel fully supported to have these conversations; that patients and carers are fully informed and supported to understand the meaning of these important conversations; and that GPs, patients and families are given the necessary time to have these discussions - the focus on this in today’s report is welcome.

“The College has developed guidance to support GPs and their teams to navigate their way through the ethical decisions that the COVID-19 pandemic might necessitate, in the best interests of patient care.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.