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Age UK has sounded the alarm over “morally repugnant” treatment of the elderly amid reports some were under pressure to sign ‘do not resuscitate’ forms.
The NHS is preparing for the UK’s coronavirus crisis to explode over the coming days, with demand for ITU beds, ventilators and medics set to reach unprecedented levels.
But the charity has cautioned healthcare chiefs “nobody should feel pressured into refusing treatment” after it was claimed older people faced “undignified” care.
The NHS official guidance is that there should be no blanket decision on end-of-life care for any group.
But a series of disturbing reports have surfaced that GPs and in one case an entire care home have been asked to get some patients to agree to ‘do not attempt CPR’ (DNACPR) forms.
HuffPost UK reported on Tuesday how Llynfi GP practice, in south Wales, had written letters to some of its sickest patients underlining “several benefits” of the forms.
They warned that those with serious conditions such as incurable cancer, motor neurone disease, and untreatable heart and lung conditions were “unlikely to be offered hospital admissions” and “certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”.
It went on to encourage them to complete the DNACPR form as “scarce ambulance resources can be targeted to the young and fit who have a greater chance” of recovering from the virus.
Llynfi surgery has since apologised and acknowledged the letter did not represent official guidance.
The BBC reported on one document sent to GP practices by Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, which directs all care homes to “check they have resuscitation orders on every patient”.
GP practice managers have also told HuffPost UK they have been asked to check on patients’ conditions and ensure DNACPR forms are “up to date”.