Charities are calling on the UK Government and NHS to protect the elderly and vulnerable amid pressure for them to sign ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) forms during the coronavirus pandemic.
The statement follows a series of cases, including an 86-year-old lady who agreed to sign a DNR form following a request from her local surgery.
The letter was signed by the Charity Director of Age UK and the Chief Executive of Independent Age among others.
The signatories warned: “We are seeing shocking examples where blanket decisions seem to be being made about the care and treatment options that will be available to older and vulnerable people, who have felt pressurised into signing Do Not Attempt CPR forms.
“Alongside this, many of the people affected have experienced fear and anxiety, and feel that their lives and wishes do not matter. This is shameful and unacceptable.”
The letter said that it is “crucial” for the authorities to ensure that “communication with vulnerable people is handled in a far more sensitive way to avoid further worry and upset”.
many of the people affected have experienced fear and anxiety, and feel that their lives and wishes do not matter
It comes just a week after the Care Quality Commission issued a joint statement with three other organisations stating that “it is unacceptable for advance care plans” with or without DNR forms “to be applied to groups of people of any description”. They stressed the need for decisions to be made “on an individual basis according to need”.
Last month, a GP surgery in south Wales apologised for asking patients with serious health problems to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ form.
Llynfi Surgery told patients they would not be offered ventilators if they suffered from conditions such as motor neurone disease or incurable cancer.
In a letter, the surgery stated that people deemed to have “significant life-limiting illnesses” were “unlikely to be offered hospital admission should they become unwell and certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”. It also indicated that CPR would not be performed.
Elizabeth John, one of the patients who received the letter, said it “made me feel worthless and I felt as if I had been sent a death warrant”.