An 11-year-old boy and cancer patients are among the vulnerable children whose parents are being asked to sign do not resuscitate forms.
GPs asked Ilhan Ates-Suddes’s mother Margaret, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, to fill out an order for if he catches coronavirus in a move she branded inhumane.
Meanwhile a 16-year-old boy was called by his doctor surgery and asked to consent to the document.
The paperwork gives permission for medics to avoid using CPR to attempt to restart a patient’s heart when it’s stopped beating.
NHS England has warned against these blanket decisions but in the current climate, some argue there is a need to embark on these highly sensitive conversations.
GPs asked Ilhan Ates-Suddes’s mother Margaret, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, to fill out an order for if he catches coronavirus in a move she branded inhumane (stock image)
The deadly bug has swept through the country, having killed 917 people in 24 hours yesterday making the total death toll 9,875.
The family of Ilhan, who has to be fed through a tube due as he suffers from fibrosarcoma in his neck and jaw, said they were shocked by the request.
Margaret, 32, told the Sunday Mirror: ‘They asked if we wanted a DNR if Ilhan had to be taken to hospital with coronavirus.
‘When I complained, one GP told me there had been a mistake. But how on earth can someone see an 11-year-old boy’s age on a computer and think that it is responsible behaviour?
‘Ilhan is an oncology patient and this is something we would decide with his consultant at Leeds General Infirmary, where the treatment has been amazing.’
But it appears not to be an isolated incident, as the 16-year-old from Colchester, Essex, was also said to have received a DNR form.
The patient, who has not been named, has the connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos but has control over his care.
His mother blasted the move and said her son now thinks the Government wants him dead.
A Welsh GP surgery is said to have sent a letter to patients with life-limiting illnesses, recommending they agree to forgo CPR treatment if they go into cardiac arrest.
Care homes in East Sussex and Wales imposing blanket Do Not Resuscitate orders on elderly resident prompted similar outrage.
In a damning statement, Age UK said: ‘Many of the people affected have experienced fear and anxiety and feel that their lives and wishes do not matter.’
GPs have been asking elderly patients to agree to sign Do Not Resuscitate notices
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, leading charities and critical-care experts have detailed the appropriate ways to handle these vital discussions.
And doctors outline the way in which it should – and should not – be done.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said no one should ever feel pressured into making this highly personal decision.
But she added: ‘It is sensible to have the conversation. To try and rush it because of the current crisis – or do it in an insensitive way or over the phone – is clearly not going to be very helpful.
‘It may be that older people, if given the chance to sit down with their families and think about it, might decide it’s the right thing for them.
‘But that’s harder at the moment, with families split up and unable to talk to each other very readily.’
Sometimes, a GP may instigate the conversation, if it is deemed appropriate.
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said finding out about patients’ end-of- life wishes are an ‘essential part of general practice’.
This includes discussing whether they might wish to sign a Do Not Resuscitate form – known as a Do Not Attempt CPR, or DNACPR order.
Patients can also ask for the paperwork on admission to hospital.
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, says finding out about patients’ end-of- life wishes are an ‘essential part of general practice’
While Prof Marshall acknowledges doctors need to continue having these chats during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said the focus should be on the individual patient and their needs.
Abrahams agrees: ‘Blanket decisions in care homes are completely unacceptable.’
If a patient does sign a Do Not Resuscitate order, they will still have access to all available treatment – should they become critically ill.
This includes being admitted to intensive care and, in the case of Covid-19, ventilators to help patients breathe.
The only treatment that will not be used is CPR – performed in an emergency if the heart stops beating – otherwise known as cardiac arrest.
It involves using chest compressions, artificial ventilation and electric shocks, to try to restart the heart.
The procedure proves life-saving in roughly a fifth of all patients. Yet, experts say patients should be aware of the risks.