Disabled patients told NHS Trust ‘saving resources for coronavirus’

An NHS trust has reportedly told severely disabled patients that it will no longer supply them with replacement filters for ventilators because they are being kept for patients with coronavirus.

Patients with muscular dystrophy told the Disabled News Service (DNS) that Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust says it is prioritising people with COVID-19 over those with life-limiting health conditions.

Last month, a GP surgery in Wales apologised for writing to patients with serious health problems asking them to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ form.

Limited

Two patients who use the filters to protect them from infection were told by the West London-based NHS Trust that supplies are running low and they will no longer be given replacements.

One was told in an email: “With the recent Coronavirus outbreak unfortunately, we have been instructed by management not to send any antibacterial filters until further notice.

“The limited stock we have is being directed towards patients infected with COVID-19.”

Apology

When challenged by DNS, a spokeswoman for the Trust said it had “reduced the numbers of filters being sent out and patients have been asked to extend the life of those they have, due to the numbers available in the system”.

She added that “the trust regretted if it had given the impression that it had compromised the safety of one patient group over another”.

Last month a GP surgery in south Wales was forced to apologise after it told patients 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”.

Elizabeth John, one of the patients who received the letter and who has an incurable form of cancer, said the letter was like a “death warrant” and made her feel “worthless”.

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