NICE guideline to standardised opioid use in palliative care and address patients’ concerns

Date: 
23 May 2012
A new clinical guideline published today (23rd May) by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), is aimed at helping ensure safe and consistent prescribing of opioids as a first-line treatment option to relieve pain for patients receiving palliative care for chronic or incurable illnesses.

The guideline is available here: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/index.jsp?action=byID&o=13745

Speaking in response, Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chair of the National Council for Palliative Care said:

"Opioids can play an indispensable role in pain relief for people who are dying, which is why there needs to be wider confidence in their use so that people don't die needlessly in pain.

As a practising GP I know that patients can become anxious when the use of morphine is suggested and that healthcare professionals too may not feel always comfortable. I therefore welcome this new clinical guideline, which will enable doctors to give confident reassurance to patients about the safe use of morphine.

It is essential that opioids are used correctly and are available for people who need them, where and when they need them, which is why I urge more doctors, especially generalists, to become more confident in using morphine through training and why I welcome the acknowledgement in the guideline of excellent communication with patients."

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