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A symposium to discuss topics around talking about dying was recently held at St Catherine's College in Oxford.

Talking about dying symposium

Organised by the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care and the Oxford Healthcare Values Partnership, the event was inspired by the publication of the book 'Talking About Dying: Help in Facing Death & Dying' by Philip Giddings, Martin Down, Elaine Sugden and Gareth Tuckwell.

Just under 200 participants were present and a lively conversation took place, on topics including: who needs to talk about dying? Why don't many of us like to talk about dying? What do we say? Being the patient. The involvement as a doctor, nurse, spouse, parent or friend. Does 'faith' make a difference? Wills, Power of Attorney and advanced decisions.

The panel discussion with audience participation was moderated by Evan Davis, Journalist and BBC Presenter, and the speakers were: Dr Elaine Sugden, a recently retired Consultant Oncologist from the Oxford University Hospitals and a co-author of 'Talking About Dying'; Dr Graham Collins, a Consultant Haematologist in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who specialises in the treatment of lymphoma; Pamela Richards, a former primary school teacher who has been on treatment for cancer and is now receiving an experimental treatment for her condition; and Joel Ward, a St Catherine's College alumnus who is working as a foundation year 2 doctor in Colchester and is planning a career in surgery.

Professor Ashok Handa, the Co-director of the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, said: 'Feedback has been very positive with many participants asking for further events and planning similar events in their own clinical services'.