Letter: The best way to ease the pain

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Searle (Letters, 23 September) makes a valid point when he says that palliative medicine services are a low priority for many health authorities. He might also have pointed out that many patients who will no longer benefit from curative treatment would prefer care at home from their GP and the primary care team to the alien atmosphere of a hospital.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has set up a pilot project jointly funded by the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund and the Department of Health to enhance the palliative care skills of GPs. This will mainly be achieved by increasing their knowledge of pain relief, looking at the counselling involved in palliative care, and showing them the resources that are available from the excellent Marie Curie and Macmillan Fund nurses and local hospices.

This type of care may not have been suitable for someone as ill as Mrs Lillian Boyes. We hope, however, that if this pilot project is successful, it may become normal in less serious cases for palliative care to be delivered at the patient's home, co-ordinated by their GP, whom they have often known for many years.

Yours faithfully,

IVAN COX

Chairman

Clinical & Research Division

Royal College of General Practitioners

London, SW7

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