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Monday, September 26, 2016
Catholics doctors consulted on care after death
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 For the first time, the General Medical Council (GMC) has drafted guidance clarifying doctors' responsibility to respect religious and cultural beliefs after a patient's death. Previous guidance referred to care for the dying, but did not outline doctors' duties after a patient's death.

The GMC is seeking Catholics' views on the new draft guidance, End of life treatment and care: Good practice in decision-making.

The draft guidance highlights the challenges that patients and carers from ethnic minority groups can experience in accessing good quality end of life care. It also clarifies doctors' responsibility to take account of patients' cultural, religious and spiritual needs in decisions about their care. After a patient's death, doctors are asked to consider and accommodate for these needs wherever possible, both in relation to bereaved families, as well as to the way in which a patient's body is treated.

The guidance also seeks to help doctors provide good care by responding to individuals' clinical, emotional and psychological needs. This includes making decisions about when treatments may become too burdensome in relation to the benefits they bring.

Other new elements in the guidance include a section on advance care planning and on organ donation.
Significant changes to the guidance are around cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), clinically assisted nutrition and hydration and neonates, children and young people.

Jane O'Brien GMC Assistant Director of Standards and Fitness to Practise said: "Most doctors are sensitive to the cultural needs of their patients. This new guidance solidifies existing good practice into guidance. The GMC is keen to engage with different cultural, religious and ethnic groups in order to best inform the consultation with a wide range of views, and will be consulting organisations representing the major UK faith groups, the National Secular Society, the Interfaith Alliance and organisations representing the interests of ethnic minority patients and carers.

"Our guidance aims to ensure that all doctors are aware of the ethical and legal principles that should underpin practice in end of life care and to let patients know what they can expect from their doctor.
"While the end of life consultation touches on many emotionally charged subjects, this is not a debate about assisted suicide. Our guidance to doctors on this matter will always remain with the parameters of the law."

The guidance is out for consultation until 13 July 2009. The GMC has extended the standard three month consultation period, and will be consulting for four months, to allow all those who may be interested in contributing to have their voice heard.

Source: GMC
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