Family doctor involvement in palliative care: what’s its prognosis?

A general practioner from Western Australia shares his thoughts and feelings about his involvement in Palliative Care  in a honest and thoughtful way.

„I feel like such a fraud. What am I doing writing a guest post for Palliverse, when I am a doctor who rarely provides palliative care? My justification for writing here is that it’s this very sense of uncertainty and underqualification that I’m feeling which is the subject of my post.

John Murtagh, in his classic textbook on general practice, writes:

The GP is the ideal person to manage palliative care for a variety of reasons — availability, knowledge of the patient and family, and the relevant psychosocial influences. A key feature is the ability to provide the patient with independence and dignity by managing palliative care at home. Someone has to take the responsibility for leadership of the team and the most appropriate professional is a trusted family doctor.

But are GPs embracing this challenge? Decreasingly so, it seems. The rate of home visits halved in Australian general practice between the nineties and the noughties; I think it’s a fair bet that GP home visits for palliative care fell in some similar proportion. In 2007, a quarter of Australian GPs surveyed said they were not involved in palliative care, and these GPs tended to be younger, working part-time, and not practice owners. These demographic features are becoming more common, which invokes the spectre of GP palliative care participation falling further“…..

To the article

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