A GP surgery has apologised for asking patients with serious health problems to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ form.
Llynfi Surgery in south Wales told patients they would not be offered ventilators if they suffered from conditions such as motor neurone disease or incurable cancer.
It comes as new guidelines in the US suggest that people with ‘moderate dementia’ could also be left to die.
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.
This letter made me feel worthless and I felt as if I had been sent a death warrant
Elizabeth John, one of the patients who received the letter and has an incurable form of cancer, said the letter has caused her family “great distress”.
She said: “With treatment, my cancer can be kept at bay”.
“This letter made me feel worthless and I felt as if I had been sent a death warrant”.
In the US, officials in Alabama are saying that people with “moderate to severe dementia” are “unlikely candidates for ventilator support”. They are listed alongside “persons with severe or profound mental retardation”.
Similar guidance has been issued in Washington and Arizona.
Ari Ne’eman, an academic at the Lurie Institiute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University said: “What this is really about at the end of the day is whether our civil-rights laws still apply in a pandemic.”