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Why families complain about end-of-life care in the NHS
  1. Susan Lowson, Clinical Adviser
  1. Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, and bereavement service volunteer, St Christopher’s Hospice, London


Most complaints are made following the death of a patient. It is the author’s observation that, at times, healthcare professionals find it difficult to communicate effectively with the family and friends of patients who are dying. This can, on occasion, give rise to complaints about the care that the patient has received. All nurses should strive for excellence in end-of-life care. This article will highlight common reasons for complaints about end-of-life care in the NHS. It stresses the importance of accurate documentation and highlights the need for effective communication with families. It is essential that education is provided for all healthcare professionals with regard to talking about death and dying and managing people’s expectations relating to care at the end of life and what should be expected. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Bereavement
  • Communication skills
  • Complaint handling
  • Listening skills
  • Management of expectation
  • Training and support

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