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New charter for end-of-life care

A new charter has been launched on end-of-life care, to be displayed in more than 8,000 GP surgeries across England.

The patient charter is made up of seven pledges to ensure people are as comfortable as possible in the final stages of their lives, and that their wishes about their own death are listened to. They include:

  • That the primary care team will do all they can to help the patient preserve their independence, dignity and sense of personal control throughout the course of their illness.
  • That the primary care team will support those close to the patient, both as the patient approaches the end of their life and through their bereavement.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) compiled the list to demonstrate what patients in primary care should expect to receive from GPs and nurses in terms of end-of-life care.

Teams will also pledge to do all they can to help patients retain independence and control through the course of their illness, and to offer support to families.

Patients are invited to comment on the charter and offer suggestions for improving it.

It was formulated with the help of patients, nurses, GPs, specialists and representatives from health and social care.

A copy of the charter will be sent to 8,500 GP practices across England to be displayed in waiting rooms.

Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: "Primary care teams are well placed to promote an exemplary standard of end-of-life care. The RCN hopes that the charter will improve team working between nurses who work in the community and their colleagues based in general practice".

RCGP - End-of-life Care

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Yet another 'big talk' wasting money that could be used on services. How much did this one cost to put together? A couple of years worth of counselling dermatology and physiotherapy services I bet!" - Name and address supplied

"We already provide help advice and support to both patients and carers/family. We always where possible abide by the patients request re the best place to die" - Lynn Cook

"The charter is needed in general practice but a greater need is in care homes and elderly medicine units" - R Hesse

"Another new charter. When nurses received high quality training that was relevant to their practice high quality care was delivered. It's about time the powers that be looked at what has gone wrong with nurse training" - Name and address supplied

"My mother died 3 yrs ago and I nursed her myself in the Residential Home with help from outside carers, as there was no bed for her in the local Hospice. I needed some counselling afterwards to come to terms with the manner of her death and her pain control over her last weekend before the Hospice was involved in her care. Since then the Hospice has got their own
community team. I am so glad that end of life care is being reviewed at last, many GPs seem to be lacking in dealing with it, and it is going to happen to us all! Everyone should have control over the manner of their death with as much dignity as possible. My Father was a Dr and died in his sleep, a shock for us but so much better for him" - Anne Evans, West Sussex

"I lost my wife last year to cancer. She died in our local hospice, Forest Holm. She was given the most fantastic care and love by the staff until her death. I was also cared for, and my needs both physical (ie food and drink) and moral support both before and after my wife's death. I only wish that everybody could have such a peaceful end-of-life experience" - Michael Gorse, Dorset