Age Scotland calls for inquiry into 'Do Not Resuscitate' orders during pandemic

Age Scotland has called for an inquiry into the use of ‘Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) orders during the Covid-19 pandemic, following a damning report from the care watchdog in England.

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The report by the Care Quality Commission in England found that the human rights of more than 500 patients may have been breached when Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) orders were imposed without discussion with the patient or their families.

Age Scotland has written to Healthcare Improvement Scotland calling for an investigation into the use of DNACPRs north of the border in the last year.

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Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has backed the call, saying an inquiry would reassure older people and their families that their rights are protected.

Age Scotland called on the Scottish Parliament's health and sport committee to instigate an inquiry last year after receiving calls from patients who had discovered orders in their hospital discharge notes which had been completed without their knowledge.

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Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: "We know from calls to our helpline that a number of older people and their families in Scotland have been very concerned and angry about the way DNACPR decisions were applied to them in the past year.

"We heard from over 60s who considered themselves to be in good health receiving an unexpected call from the GP asking them to agree not to receive medical intervention if their heart stopped beating or their breathing stopped. They were suspicious that they were targeted simply because of their age and left feeling that their lives were less valued."

He added: "We want to know exactly what happened, how many people had DNACPR decisions made without their knowledge and whether there was a criterion for people approached, such as age or shielding status.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "Our health service has faced an incredibly challenging period but it's absolutely unconscionable that older people could be pushed into making major decisions like this.

"Everyone deserves kind, compassionate and informed support throughout their journey through the health service.

"An inquiry into the use of these orders would be a concrete step towards reassuring older people and their families, that their wishes will be respected, and their rights protected."

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