Care homes were asked to implement blanket ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) orders by NHS managers and GPs at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, a report has found.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute discovered 10 per cent of care home staff changed DNR orders without consultation with family members, nursing staff or the residents themselves.
The report’s author, Professor Alison Leary, has called for an inquiry into the findings.
The report surveyed 128 nurses and care home managers who work either with the elderly or younger people with learning or mental disabilities.
One respondent said they were “advised to have them in place for all residents” but challenged the advice as “unethical” and instead acted in accordance with “medical advice and resident wishes”.
Another said that DNRs were “put in place without family consent by trust staff”, and that no discussion with staff in the care home took place.
Prof Leary represented the findings as “worrying”, and noted “These decisions were being made by NHS managers not clinicians.”
Deborah Alsina, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, shared Leary’s concerns.
She said the research showed that older patients are having their wishes “ignored”.
“Do not resuscitate orders should, wherever possible, be made in consultation with the person concerned and their family and be based on fitness to be treated, as well as personal preference.”
Earlier this year, the Government reported it would release new guidance on DNR forms after the Court of Appeal established there is a legal duty for hospitals to consult with and inform patients if they are placing a DNR on their records.