The BBC reports (October 19) that the Royal College of Physicians are now calling for doctors to get better at having difficult conversations with dying patients and not just in their final days.

The new RCP report “Talking about Dying” says doctors should talk to people who could die within 12 months, who may be frail or terminally ill, and give them choices over their future care. But that rarely happens and doctors should be more proactive.

At a meeting at the Church of England General Synod in February 2017, sponsored by Anglican Mainstream and Wilberforce Publications, “Talking about Dying” published by Wilberforce was launched. It was written by former chairman of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings with Dr Elaine Sugden, Dr Gareth Tuckwell and Rev Martin Down who had all identified the need for such a resource. A further launch meeting was held at the Royal Society of Medicine and hosted by Sir Christopher Paine, a former president of the British Medical Association.

Since then the book has been the subject of a seminar attended by 200 people and chaired by Evan Davies of Newsnight at St Catherine’s College Oxford and is a resource book for final year medical students at Oxford University.

It is the subject of two seminars to be given near Cape Town, South Africa on October 22 and 23 by Professor Ashok Handa, director of Surgical Education at Oxford. (See events on OCRPL).

It covers the following topics

  1. Why and How do we need to talk about dying?
  2. Coping with Life-Threatening Illnesses
  3. Difficult Decisions
  4. Talking about Dying:When,Where and How?
  5. Coping with the unexpected
  6. Suicide
  7. The Death of a Baby
  8. Talking to Children
  9. Talking about Life after Death
  10. Facing up to Fear
  11. Praying for Healing
  12. Practical Matters
  13. How we can help.

The book is available on Amazon for £8 plus delivery.