What are a GP's responsibilities?

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Last seen: 6 years 6 months ago
Joined: 08/09/2011 - 4:55pm
What are a GP's responsibilities?

My sister and I are struggling to come to terms with my mother's terminal illness but she wishes to remain in her own home and we have managed to have her referred to the community team at the local hospice, who are very helpful. However, her GP has more or less washed his hands of her. He came to visit her under duress 3 weeks ago, armed with a pre-typed referral letter to the general hospital. This is not what she wants but I understand that she should be seen by a doctor at least once a fortnight to avoid involving the coroner when she dies. Is the GP obliged to visit regularly? She is far too ill to go to the surgery.

Last seen: 9 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 15/04/2011 - 6:34pm
Hospice community team should know

Hi Jenny, really sorry to hear about your mum's situation. I posted your question on our Facebook page and received this helpful response from a lady who's not a community member here:

My first step would be to ask the someone from the hospice community team - surely they will know. End of life care is a BIG issue for the NHS. Both the system and the staff can handle it very badly (fancy documents and initiatives notwithstanding) - not always, but it is not uncommon either. There is still a lot of fear in health professionals around even talking about death, never mind supporting patients. Passing the buck to the hospice staff is VERY common. This lady is probably in FAR better hands with them than her GP. But regarding that info - I would ask the hospice staff first. They deal with this sort of thing all the time and ought to know exactly what is right.

Last seen: 9 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 15/04/2011 - 6:34pm
Practical suggestion. Drop in

Practical suggestion. Drop in a letter marked urgent addressed to your Mum's GP 5 working days before the 2 weeks required for death certification runs out. Inside, say that you expect to hear from him / her to arrange a visit within the next 5 working days to ensure that her death will not necessitate involvement of the police or coroner. It would be a brave GP who didn't make contact (but make sure they are not on leave! - if they are, address it to another practice doctor, but maybe worded a bit more tactfully).

lisabarton's picture
Last seen: 6 years 4 months ago
Joined: 13/09/2011 - 10:09pm
Some advice, hope it helps

Hi, very sorry to hear about your Mum.
You are absolutely right, her GP has a duty to visit your Mum regularly, not just to avoid unecessary post mortem, but to ensure she is prescribed appropriate drugs to control any symptoms she may develop, to refer her to the District Nursing Team/Specialist Palliative Care Team and to provide ongoing support to you as well as your Mum.
He should also ensure that the appropriate documentation is completed so that your Mums wishes are known (e.g. not being admitted to hospital) and Do Not Attempt Resuscitation, also to commence a special care plan especially designed for patients who have reached the last phase of their life, an example of this is the Liverpool Care Pathway.
I would ask for a different doctor, and ask for District Nurses to get involved, they can care for your Mum, and will ensure the GP does what he should do.
Good luck x

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