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It has been reported that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS managers and GP’s requested care homes place a blanket ‘Do not resuscitate’ (DNR) order on all their residents in order to keep hospital beds free.

A result from a survey carried out by the Queen’s Nursing institute conveyed that 1 in 10 care home staff were instructed to alter DNR plans without discussion with the resident’s family members or with the resident themselves. The care home staff members who stated they had been asked to alter the DNR plans worked, not only in elderly care homes, but care homes for younger individuals with learning disabilities.

It has also been reported that a number of Hospitals were operating a ‘no admissions’ policy for care home residents, including those with un-related non COVID conditions such as heart attacks.

At the start of April NHS England’s Medical Director Stephen Powis banned the use of blanket DNR forms, after discovering a Port Talbot practice had asked elderly patients to complete forms in order to stop emergency services being called if they contracted COVID-19. A GP surgery in Somerset was also discovered to have instructed autistic adults that they should sign DNRs to prevent resuscitation if they became critically ill. The learning disability care provider Turning Point said it had received an "unprecedented" number of ‘do not resuscitate' forms from GPs.

Alison Leary, Professor of Healthcare and Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University called for an inquiry regarding the treatment and handling of the care home residents during the pandemic stating “I think there should be an inquiry. The way the situation for care homes has been handled needs a retrospective view, particularly because winter is coming, which is always a difficult time for this group of people.”

It is clear that the management and handling of care homes are falling under close scrutiny due to the decisions that have been made during the pandemic by the government and those in managerial roles within the NHS. All individuals deserve safe and suitable care and in particular, those who are most vulnerable and more likely to be affected by the pandemic.

At Ramsdens our highly experienced Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury teams are here and able to assist in potential claims. If you are concerned about the care received by you or a loved one please do not hesitate to contact us on 01484 821 500, fill out our online enquiry form or email us to discuss confidentially