Ventilator: people with long-term illnesses, disabilities and learning disabilities are still being denied resuscitation by the NHS – and one nurse, at least, has denied the existence of this scandal.
I can’t let this pass.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on June 16, Peterborough’s Tory MP Paul Bristow asked an important question about “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) orders that have been made on NHS patients during the Covid-19 crisis.
Having reported on this scandal many times on This Site, I tweeted in response:
I was surprised and saddened when this provoked the following response from a Twitter user who identifies as a nurse (I won’t reproduce the tweet here because I do not wish to identify that person):
“Are you a healthcare professional?
“Then do not spread false theories about something you obviously know nothing about.”
I attempted to put my critic straight – as politely as possible, in the circumstances:
“I am a news reporter of nearly 30 years experience and have been covering this story from the start. I DO know the facts here. And I see that, since you provide no information to support your insult, you probably don’t. Go well.”
Sadly, this person would not take the (rather overt) hint and came back at me:
You have confirmed it.
It is a story.
I do not have the time, inclination or room on twitter to “provide you with information” only to say that I have 30 years experience as a nurse and have a postgraduate qualification in Professional Practice
Then this is a person who ought to have known better. The claim, “It is a story,” was an attempt to downplay the DNR deaths as fiction, and I wasn’t having that. Also the refusal to support a claim with factual information is a classic tactic by trolls who don’t have any facts to offer.
So I responded (again):
“And how does that better qualify you to comment on this? I’ve done the research so I know my facts. It isn’t fiction.”
And again this person came back at me:
Ok then would you attempt CPR on a five stone frail old woman? Am not going to carry on with this because I’m afraid you just don’t know what you’re on about
This is misleading, and a lie. Allow me to explain.
Mr Bristow’s question is available to read in Hansard, here. He said: “Last year, doctors and care settings issued an unprecedented number of “do not resuscitate” orders to patients with learning disabilities and mental illness. Many were unlawful and caused avoidable deaths.
“Despite urgent Care Quality Commission and NHS guidance, shockingly, this practice has continued. Last week, The Telegraph reported that Sonia Deleon died unresuscitated. Her family said she was given a DNR without them knowing, and with her learning disabilities and schizophrenia stated as reasons.
“Does the Prime Minister share my alarm about these cases, which should have no place in our care, and does he agree that they should be independently investigated?”
I won’t bother to repeat Boris Johnson’s response as he made no undertaking to prevent further abuses of DNR orders.
It was clear that the issue here was not the safety of attempting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on a person who may suffer as much harm in that attempt as by the condition that had caused them to need reviving.
It was a political choice to deny health care to people dying with Covid-19, because they have learning (or other) disabilities. It seems to have been considered an opportunity to clear many thousands of so-called “useless eaters” from the UK’s benefit books.
Sonia Deleon’s story is a classic example; you can read about it here.
In brief, almost a year after it was revealed that a policy was in place to deny NHS Covid-19 care to people with long-term illnesses and disabilities – and NHS bosses then claimed to have warned hospitals, GPs and NHS managers not to make such orders on these people, Sonia Deleon was deliberately allowed to die because a DNR order on her had been made.
Hospital authorities claimed that it the order had been agreed with Ms Deleon’s family but they deny this strenuously.
Ms Deleon had learning disabilities and the circumstances of her death are not only a scandal in themselves but are a continuation of a national disgrace.
And I was criticised for highlighting this atrocity – by someone claiming to be a nurse.
I won’t take this matter further by seeking to identify the NHS trust for which this person works and requesting that they be reminded of the facts and properly disciplined for trying to mislead the public. I may change my mind if any further attempts at deception result from this article.
But I will take the opportunity to request that anybody who has relatives living with a long-term illness or disability, or a learning disability, should contact the NHS and ensure that orders equivalent to death sentences have not been applied to their loved ones without their knowledge.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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