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Friday 21st October 2016

End of life care must remain multidisciplinary

2nd February 2011

Writing in HSJ Dr Rachael Addicott, a senior research fellow at The King's Fund, argues that end of life care must remain multidisciplinary despite financial constraints.


With figures showing that the annual number of deaths in the UK will rise by 17% by 2030 with people dying at an older age, action is needed to ensure access to high quality end-of-life care.

With current NHS financial constrains, additional spending in this area is unlikely which means commissioners and providers must develop innovative and flexible solutions to meet patients’ expectations.

Taking existing best practice will help shape the solution, though it is clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

There are difficulties such as in identifying the end of life care phase, though better training, multidisciplinary co-ordination and access to care records across all relevant professionals and organisations would help.

King’s Fund research found that often a clinician may make a prognosis or identify that a patient is nearing the end of their life, but then not discuss it with the patient for a variety of reasons.

It is important for specialist and generalist staff to work together to help overcome anxieties about discussing death and planning for death and that good communication and planning of a patient’s needs and wishes is paramount in providing them with high quality care, and preventing gaps or duplication, especially in out of hours care.

Advanced care planning plays a central part in ensuring patients’ preferences are respected and fulfilled.

What is clear is that high quality end of life care cannot be delivered by a single organisational or professional group.


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