The care homes and the blanket DNR: the killing fields of Covid?
A Care Quality Commission survey has found that ‘[b]lanket “do not resuscitate” orders’ were ‘imposed on care home residents without their consent’ during the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the ‘“potentially unlawful” practice may still be going on’, and with over 500 such residents put under such DNRs, the health care regulator says ‘the true number is likely to be much higher because the majority of care providers did not respond’. The charity Age UK called the CQC’s ‘damning report’ ‘“extremely disturbing”’, confirming ‘concerns that “people’s rights to choose were ridden roughshod over during the pandemic’”; it may now ‘trigger a raft of legal cases brought by relatives of people who died’ (‘Care home residents put on DNR orders without consent’, Telegraph, March 18, 2021). https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/18/care-home-residents-put-do-not-resuscitate-orders-without-consent/
A spokesman for the NHS stated: ‘“The NHS has repeatedly instructed local clinicians and services that blanket DNA decisions would be unacceptable – including on three separate occasions in less than a month at the start of the pandemic, and again last week – and that access to treatment and care for people should be and is made on an individual basis in consultation with family and carers.”’
And yet somehow, hundreds – at least – of these DNRs were issued in respect of vulnerable residents. Coupled with the official policy at the beginning of the pandemic of sending untested patients from hospital to care homes in order to ‘protect the NHS’, it seems the Government’s approach to helpless old people amounted at best to carelessness and at worst to wilful murder. And in view of the ruinous financial cost of their lockdown policy, it could even be seen as a way of reducing the surplus ‘unproductive’ population.
Let us hope that many court cases are brought by the relatives of these victims, because seeking redress through the courts for their callous treatment may be the only way to obtain justice - albeit posthumously – for them, as well as the best way to safeguard the vulnerable in the future.