DISCUSSING death still remains a taboo for many people - but end of life planning for the elderly and terminally ill is essential, Bolton health chiefs have advised.

A new poll carried out by the Dying Matters Coalition found only 21 per cent of Britons have discussed their end of life wishes with somebody.

The poll of 2,000 adults found 51 per cent had not made their partner aware of their wishes.

And a separate poll of 1,000 family doctors found that a quarter had not initiated conversations with their patients about their end of life wishes.

Yet Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director for integrated commissioning at NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said GPs in Bolton already offer advice to elderly and terminally ill patients.

Dr Silvert said: “Understandably, many of us find it difficult to think about the end of our lives. However, if you are elderly or terminally ill, planning ahead can help you to receive the care you want, in your chosen location.

“NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to ensuring that every Bolton patient receives the best possible care at the end of their life, in line with their wishes and preferences.

“GPs are well placed to provide and coordinate end of life care. We work closely with Bolton GPs to ensure patients reaching the end of their lives are identified and receive the care and support they need to live as well as possible.

"We also support GPs by running education sessions on the principles of good end of life care.”

Claire Henry, chief executive of the Dying Matters Coalition and the National Council for Palliative Care, added: “You only die once, which is why it’s so important to make your wishes known while there’s still time.”