GPs lack knowledge of advance care plans, report finds

Categories: Care and Research.

GPs have significant gaps in knowledge about advance care planning and how this can benefit patients, a new report by Compassion in Dying has found.

The research also found that GPs are often reluctant to start conversations with patients end- of-life care.

Compassion in Dying is the charity that supports people to know and understand their legal rights at the end of life. To compile this new study they interviewed ten practising GPs from across England to gain an in-depth understanding of their experiences of Advance Decisions.

Key findings of the report include:

  • a lack of awareness that a valid and applicable Advance Decision is legally binding and must be followed
  • a belief that conversations about death, dying and planning for the end of life would be too upsetting or difficult, and GPs are therefore failing to initiate conversations about people’s wishes for end-of-life care
  • classifying supporting a person to make an Advance Decision as private work and charging for appointments
  • concerns about repercussions if an Advance Decision they supported a person to make was followed at a later date

Usha Grieve, Director of Information & Partnerships at Compassion in Dying, commented:

“These findings, among others, highlight that if personalisation in end-of-life care is to be achieved, action needs to be taken to improve the understanding and implementation of the Mental Capacity Act in primary care.

“Ultimately this is about delivering compassionate care, working together with people to ensure they have agency in decisions about their health, and as a result improving their experience and health outcomes.

“We also recognise that GPs are under immense pressure and we want to offer our support. We are now creating resources for GPs, and partnering with primary care networks to support them to improve their skills and knowledge in this area.”

To read the report visit Compassion in Dying – Advance Decisions: Uncovering what GPs need

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