The definitions of end of life care need to be clarified and standardised, say UK researchers who undertook a consultation exercise involving 210 representatives from primary and secondary care, specialist palliative care and academic and voluntary sectors in England and Scotland. Perceptions of what end of life care refers to ranged from more than a year to the last few days of life. Prominent concerns included difficulties in prognosis and availability of support for patients with advanced non-malignant disease. The consultation highlighted the challenges that generalists in primary and secondary care face in maintaining their skills and expertise. The researchers also said that more needs to be known about the context of end of life care provision and the influence of competing priorities and incentives in general practice.

Shipman C, Gysels M, White P et al. BMJ 2008;337:a1720

Originally published in the November 2008 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.

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