Pensioners fight back against ‘draconian DNRs’

Pensioners are fighting back over Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders being placed on their medical records without their knowledge.

Recent reports have brought to light disturbing evidence that DNR orders are being routinely issued by ‘frailty practioners’ and other NHS staff.

NHS England has run the ‘frailty index’ programme since 2017, but it now appears that it is being carried out without proper consultation and that DNR orders are being issued without patients’ permission.


Writing in the Daily Mail, Sue Reid said a number of pensioners had been in touch with the newspaper telling how they had successfully fought to have the orders removed from their files.

Former magistrate and keen sailor Bob Russell found an envelope containing a DNR order among his possessions after a stay in hospital.

The active 80-year-old said the discovery resulted in “days and days of worry” and had left him feeling “petrified” about going into hospital again.

However, following contact with both the hospital concerned and his GP surgery, Bob has now had the order removed and received a letter of apology from the hospital.

‘Cost too much’

One “sprightly” 77-year-old lady, Stella Clarke, said that a DNR order had been suggested to her in an unsolicited telephone call from a GP at her local surgery.

Stella wrote to the doctor in protest and the order was dropped. She said: “The medical people think the old are defenceless. I believe these orders are handed out to the over-65s because we are seen as costing the NHS too much if we go to hospital.”

Pensioner Peter Jones said he felt like the doctor was trying to ‘put him down’ when he received his letter, while 74-year-old Shirley Howe said that doctors had effectively “signed her death warrant” without her permission.

Both Peter and Shirley have had the orders successfully removed.

No knowledge

The newspaper recently highlighted the case of 93-year-old great-grandmother Mrs Lucy Jeal, who was reviewed by a ‘frailty expert’ without her knowledge.

Despite her ‘frailty score’ revealing that she was “managing well” and that her medical problems were “well controlled”, she was told by letter: “Should her heart stop beating naturally, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) will not be initiated because this would not be in her best interest”.

The case is being investigated by the Care Quality Commission.

Also see:


Call for review into number of DNARs in Scotland as patients ‘not informed’

NHS asked some care homes to place DNR orders on all patients during pandemic

COVID-19: DNRs issued to people with learning disabilities

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