Making the best of bad news

  • Breaking bad news a difficult but common part of GP role
  • Registrars often unprepared for this daunting task
  • Speak "simply, plainly, kindly" and put own emotions aside
  • Create a calm environment without interruptions
  • Come prepared with information, treatment options and treatment success rates


OF all the hard jobs faced by GPs, delivering a tough diagnosis or bad news to a patient ranks as one of the hardest. As the first stop for many patients facing a serious illness, GPs are often the first medical professional to break any bad news. 

For registrars with limited face-to-face experience with patients, it can be a daunting prospect. 

“The process itself is difficult, but being the person who diagnoses something quite serious is, on a personal level, quite challenging,” says Dr Belinda Guest, former chair of General