Medics gave ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notices to patients with mental health issues or learning disabilities during Covid pandemic, report says
- An investigation showed Do Not Resuscitate orders were given to patients with learning disabilities by doctors during pandemic despite instruction not to do so
- Orders were issued if their heart stopped and at least one led to a patient’s death
- Department of Health has described the investigation findings as ‘unacceptable’
Mentally ill patients and those with learning disabilities were given ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ orders by doctors during the pandemic, it emerged last night.
The orders were issued if their heart stopped and at least one appears to have led to the death of a patient, it was reported.
Charities said they were aware of many occasions when orders were ‘inappropriately’ given, with one saying it saw 20 in a single month.
An investigation showed that Do Not Resuscitate orders were given to patients with learning disabilities by doctors during pandemic despite instructions from NHS England not to do so
NHS England wrote to doctors last year as the pandemic struck reminding them of guidance that learning disability should never be a reason for issuing a DNR order.
But an investigation by the Daily Telegraph showed that it was later listed as a reason.
Last night the Department of Health said it was ‘unacceptable’ for DNRs to be applied ‘in any kind of blanket fashion’.
Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the Commons health committee, said: ‘This kind of hidden prejudice must be stamped out.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will appear before committee members today and is expected to be asked about the use of DNRs.
Earlier this year, a damning Care Quality Commission report revealed 508 care home residents had DNRs imposed on them without their consent during the pandemic.
Commons health committee chairman Jeremy Hunt said ‘this prejudice must be stamped out’
Meanwhile, it was reported last night that care bosses repeatedly warned the Department of Health against not testing patients for Covid as they were discharged from hospitals into care homes in March last year.
The Care Provider Alliance insisted it emailed Mr Hancock directly about the dangers.
Care England told The Guardian it raised the problem with the Department of Health at the end of that month.
But Mr Hancock did not make testing compulsory until mid-April.