LOCAL MP Mike Amesbury has raised concerns at more than 500 ‘do not resuscitate’ decisions made during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic after fears older people and those with a learning disability were treated differently.
Frodsham based Mr Amesbury is concerned the decisions were issued without discussion with the patient, their relative or carer.
This finding was uncovered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who reviewed ‘Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ (DNACPR) notices at the request of the Government.
It was prompted by fears DNACPR decisions were being made without involving patients or their families and that they were being applied in a blanket way to particular groups such as those with a learning disability and older people.
Weaver Vale Labour MP Mr Amesbury, who raised the issue in Parliament recently, said: “I understand health care providers have been under tremendous pressure due to the pandemic and historic underfunding, but there is never any excuse for discriminating against a group of patients for any reason whatsoever.
“We are all human beings with unique personalities and circumstances. But each and every person has the right to life and the right to be treated with equal care, compassion, dignity and respect in a way that is personalised to us as individuals.”
The CQC heard evidence from a variety of people that ‘there had been blanket DNACPR decisions in place’ but concluded there had not been a national blanket approach to DNACPR.
Last month Mr Amesbury asked Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock about the implications for his policies of reports of ‘Do not resuscitate’ notices being given to patients with learning disabilities during the second wave of COVID-19.
Responding on Mr Hancock’s behalf, Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Social Care, said: “Learning disability should never be a reason for a Do not attempt cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decision and blanket DNACPR decisions for whole groups of people are completely inappropriate.
“We have communicated this through a number of channels to the National Health Service in England.”
She added: “We have asked the Care Quality Commission to undertake a review of DNACPR decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We do not currently have evidence to suggest widespread practice of inappropriate DNACPR decisions for people with a learning disability at this time. However, we continue to monitor the situation and have invited charities to inform us where cases of inappropriate practice are identified.”
The CQC found that 508 out of 9,679 DNACPR decisions made at the start of the pandemic had not been agreed with the patient, their relative or carer. Many of these decisions were reviewed in response to national messaging but about a third (180) were still in place in December 2020.