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Palliative care must get better, says Christian expert

Professor Rob George, who is the President of the Association for Palliative Medicine, also said it's financially possible for anyone who wants to die at home to do so, and that the Church can play a particular role in social care at the end of someone's life.

The expert also said doctors need better training in communicating with a patient's family when they are dying.

He was speaking after the Health Service Ombudsman released a report, which found more than 350,000 a year were not receiving proper pain relief at the end of their lives, and that loved ones were not getting a chance to say goodbye.

The report cited poor communication between medical staff and families, inadequate out-of-hours care and bad planning as the reasons.

It also said palliative care should be improved to the point where anyone who wants to die at home can do so if they wish.

Professor George told Premier's News Hour: "We need better services, better care, better coordination, and in particular, we need pressure put on the government and put on commissioners to provide services that are up to the job.

"We need to be much more mature in the way we think about these things [dying], and I think we need to be much more honest... and also allow, but almost encourage doctors to talk to us and tell us the truth about these things."

"The tragedy is that we're [doctors] not trained to communicate properly, and that's something that really does need to happen and to change."

"Because all of us die, and if we are frightened... that we won't get proper care, if we're frightened that our pain won't be controlled properly, then people are gonna want things like assisted suicide, and that is just not an answer to deal with the problem."

Listen to Professor Rob George speaking to Premier's Hannah Tooley on the News Hour:

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