NHS patients have been encouraged to sign “do not resuscitate” declarations as the national health service struggles to cope with the rising demand on its emergency services due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A GP letter seen by Welfare Weekly states that people suffering with some degenerative or incurable illnesses like motor nuerone disease and cancer are “unlikely to be offered hospital admission if they become unwell and certainly will not be offered a ventillator bed.”
The letter goes on to say that people with these conditions should “remain at home” and be cared for by family and friends during the COVID-19 outbreak, instead of going to hospital if they display symptoms.
It then invites patients to “complete a DNACPR form” – do not administer/attempt CPR – “which would mean that in the event of sudden deterioration in your condition because of COVID-19 infection or disease progression the emergency services will not be called and resuscitation attempts to restart your heart will not be attempted.”
The letter claims that signing a do not resuscitation declaration “will have several benefits”, which include family and friends knowing “not to call 999”, freeing up ambulance resources to respond to younger people, and reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus to others.
It warns that: “The risk of transmitting the virus to friends, family and emergency responders from CPR … is very high.
“By having a DNACPR form in place you protect your family … [and] emergency responders from this additional risk.”
A portion of the letter that has been partially cut off from view appears to claim that the surgery would have preferred to discuss the matter “in person”, but the letter was sent out to patients regardless.
The GP surgery has apologised for the wording of the letter, adding that the recommendation that vulnerable patients complete DNACPR forms was not a health board requirement.
“A letter was recently sent out from Llynfi surgery to a small number of patients,” a spokesperson said. “This was not a health board communication.
“The surgery have been made aware that the letter has caused upset to some of the patients who received it.
“This was not their intent and they apologise for any distress caused.
“Staff at the surgery are speaking to those patients who received the letter to apologise directly and answer any concerns they may have.”