GMC New Guidance on End of Life Care

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In July 2009, the Department of Health published guidance to enable health professionals to assess and record a decision to "fast track" a person for NHS continuing healthcare. By following the "Fast Track NHS Continuing Healthcare Tool", a doctor is able to assess whether a person's health has deteriorated or may deteriorate to such an extent that they need NHS continuing healthcare funding to enable their needs to be urgently met - (eg to allow them to go home to die or to allow appropriate end of life support to be put into place). The purpose of the "Fast Track Pathway Tool for NHS Continuing Health care July 2009" is to ensure that individuals are supported to be in their preferred place of care as quickly as possible and without delay due to disputes as to their eligibility for free NHS Continuing care.

As a further development and to reflect concerns from many patients that they will not receive the treatment and care they would want towards the end of life, the GMC is introducing new guidance for doctors - "Treatment and care towards the end of life: good practice in decision making" - Published on 20 May 2010 and coming into effect on 1 July 2010, doctors will be given guidance on advance care planning for patients nearing the end of life, including how to manage advance requests and refusals of treatment. It emphasises to doctors the importance of listening to patients and recording an advance care plan, to ensure that everyone involved in treating the patient can understand and follow their wishes.

The guidance also confirms that patients must be given the opportunity in advance to discuss what treatment and care they want towards their end of life and, in the case of patients who do not have the ability to take part in decision making, any decisions taken on their behalf must be made in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Further information is available on the GMC Website: http://www.gmc-uk.org/.


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