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Eating and drinking are essential for maintenance of nutrition and hydration, but are also important for pleasure and social interactions. The ability to eat and drink hinges on a complex and coordinated system, resulting in significant potential for things to go wrong.The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published updated guidance on how to support people who have eating and drinking difficulties, particularly towards the end of life.Decisions about nutrition and hydration and when to start, continue or stop treatment are some of the most challenging to make in medical practice. The newly updated guidance aims to support healthcare professionals to work together with patients, their families and carers to make decisions around nutrition and hydration that are in the best interests of the patient. It covers the factors affecting our ability to eat and drink, strategies to support oral nutrition and hydration, techniques of clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration, and the legal and ethical framework to guide decisions about giving and withholding treatment, emphasising the two key concepts of capacity and best interests.This article aims to provide an executive summary of the guidance.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Med (Lond)

Publication Date





e344 - e350


clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration, dietary modification, eating and drinking difficulties, end-of-life care, ethical decisions, Health Personnel, Humans, Nutritional Status