End of life

What is end of life care?

All physicians have a responsibility to provide good end-of-life care. Good end-of-life care enables patients nearing the end of their life to live as well as possible, and to die well, without unnecessary prolongation of the dying process. It is widely acknowledged that in many circumstances, end-of-life care does not always meet the needs of patients and their loved ones. 

The RACP Policy and Advocacy Council established the End of Life Working Party in May 2014 to identify and articulate ways for the RACP to advocate for improvements in end-of-life care.

A 2015 survey of RACP Fellows and trainees investigated their knowledge, attitudes and practice in end-of-life care and advance care planning.

The Working Party has used the survey results to guide further activities in this area, and collaborating with the RACP’s Education Department to promote resources and training on end-of life issues for Fellows and trainees. 

Position Statement 

Position Statement: Improving Care at the End of Life: Our Roles and Responsibilities (PDF 1MB)  

The RACP’s position statement on good end-of-life care was launched on 16 May 2016. It has been developed to promote the five elements of good end of life care:

  1. Diagnosing dying or the risk of dying
  2. Respecting patient autonomy and supported decision making, and providing personalised care
  3. Ensuring that medical treatment decisions respect the patient’s best interests
  4. Managing symptoms
  5. Supporting carers and family/whānau.

The position statement is intended to inform physicians and policy-makers, and support future advocacy work, and includes:

  • case studies,
  • links to evidence-based resources, and
  • recommendations for all physicians in clinical practice, for health system stakeholders and for the RACP itself. 

Fact sheet

The RACP has also developed a fact sheet with key messages and recommendations:

Fact Sheet: Where the College Stands on End-of-Life Care (PDF 1MB)

Recent submissions and media

RACP Podcasts

How can I contribute my expertise?

RACP Trainees and Physicians need to see Represent Your Profession or email policy@racp.edu.au or use the online contact form

Where can I read more?

Read published RACP policies, position statements or submissions by searching the Policy and Advocacy Library

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