Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Challenge of talking about death

The limits of palliative care

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 01 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4285
  1. Graham Winyard, former deputy chief medical officer1,
  2. Liza Macdonald, retired consultant radiotherapist2
  1. 1Winchester SO23 9TE, UK
  2. 2London W1G 6QS, UK
  1. grahamwinyard{at}

Patients wanting the sort of open discussion about their impending death that Boyd and Murray advocate will have one topic denied them; taking their own life should palliative care prove ineffective.1 This option is important because the medical literature demonstrates clearly the limits of even the best palliative care.2 The medical and religious establishments accept this but contend that the suffering of a small number of individuals is a necessary price …

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