Paralympic legend and disability campaigner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has spoken out against people with disabilities being given Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNRs) without their knowledge.
During the pandemic, there have been a number of controversies surrounding groups of people being given DNRs without their express consent, particularly those with disabilities or in care homes.
Baroness Grey-Thompson told BBC Look North that the ‘blanket’ orders should not be happening, and said talks need to take place between the NHS and disability groups.
The eleven-time Paralympic gold-medallist said: “Over the last few months I’ve dealt with a number of cases where DNRs have been placed on patients’ records without that conversation.
“We need to have a conversation about death, we need to be talking about these things. And in difficult times it’s not easy to do that, but it’s very shocking when disabled people find that on their records without knowing anything about it.”
Baroness Grey-Thompson added: “It needs discussions with the medical profession to help them understand about the lives of disabled people, and to move on from thinking that we have nothing to contribute. On a one-to-one basis, it’s having a discussion with an individual about why a Do Not Resuscitate has been placed on them.”
She continued: “There shouldn’t be a blanket Do Not Resuscitate purely because of somebody’s level of impairment. It’s got to be on a more one-to-one level than that.”
Last year, disability charities revealed that people with learning disabilities were issued with DNR forms during the pandemic because of their conditions.
Health charity Turning Point said that it had learned of 19 such cases, while Learning Disability England said ten of its member organisations had reported DNRs being issued without consultation in April.
One man, discharged from hospital after being misdiagnosed with Covid-19, was given a DNR form because of his “blindness and severe learning disabilities”.
Later in the year, a Care Quality Commission investigation found that DNRs wrongly applied during the coronavirus pandemic may have caused “avoidable death”.
According to the review, there had been a “blanket and inappropriate” use of the orders during the pandemic which they said could have resulted in “potentially avoidable death”.
A number of care providers interviewed by the CQC said they had experienced “pressure” to put orders in place without consulting the individuals concerned.