Intended for healthcare professionals


End of life care still not living up to public and doctors’ expectations

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 18 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2188

Chinese translation


  1. Scott A Murray, St Columba’s Hospice chair of primary palliative care1,
  2. Iain R Murray, clinical lecturer2
  1. 1Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG
  2. 2Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University of Edinburgh
  1. Correspondence to: S A Murray Scott.Murray{at}

We need a renewed and shared vision and purpose

To allow people the deaths they want, end of life care must be radically transformed11

As a society and as a medical profession we are apparently failing most people who die. Another report again calls for UK governments to prioritise and improve end of life care, particularly for those with non-cancer related illnesses.1 This latest detailed BMA report rates specialist palliative care for people with cancer as “excellent,” while stating that palliative care for other conditions can be “poor” and “could frequently do much better.” High quality care is not being delivered consistently.

There are many examples of good progress, but poor communication, poor coordination, under-resourced services in the community, and limited public involvement persist and are cited as reasons for these ongoing failures. Furthermore, the report highlights that overtreatment is increasingly not only harming dying people but also precluding the addition of a palliative care approach with good, realistic, and proportionate care.2

Why has progress …

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