Improvements to training and support are crucial if doctors are to be able to meet patients’ end-of-life care needs, the BMA has concluded.
The association is calling for enhanced training in communication for doctors treating patients nearing the end of their lives in the third volume of its report into end-of-life care and physician-assisted dying.
BMA representative body chair Ian Wilson, who is also chair of the project and steering group, says the report’s research had revealed ‘a clear desire amongst doctors’ for greater support and training.
Writing in the report’s foreword, he says that although existing demands and time pressures often constrained doctors’ ability to provide best practice, improvements could still be made without wholescale investment or intervention.
He writes: ‘There is a clear desire amongst doctors to have better support and training to help improve the care they can offer patients at the end of their lives … both doctors and the public recognise the pressures on doctors’ time … [and] the challenges of delivering on people’s choices, and of meeting their expectations.
‘Being realistic in our expectations should not limit our ambitions to improve; the information we have gathered indicates that there are many improvements that might be made without seismic change or massive investment.
‘Nonetheless, there is much that Governments should and could do to ensure the best of end-of-life care is available and accessible to all — much of which could even have a beneficial impact on current financial, and other, challenges.’
The latest volume of the BMA’s report on end-of-life care and physician-assisted dying comes after a series of dialogue events with doctors and members of the public held across the UK last year.
Online discussion of the issues identified through the reports is being encouraged via the BMA Communities website and at meetings of the association’s regional and national councils.
End-of-life care and physician-assisted dying are likely to be debated at the BMA annual representative meeting in June.