The RCGP has launched a new strategy for end of life care, giving GPs a central role in the radical upgrading of patient services. Recommendations include greater integration with the quality and outcomes framework, more GP involvement in care homes and improved out-of-hours palliative care.

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 a more consistent, systematic approach was required across primary care.

The RCGP has established an End of Life Care Working Group to develop and implement policies across 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 concerning best practice and strengthen teamworking 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.

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‘The importance of the holistic role of the GP is poised to come into its own in a way never previously encountered,’ said Professor Thomas.

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Originally published in the December 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.