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Inspectors warnings on Do Not Resuscitate Orders must be heeded - Liz Lynne

December 6, 2011 4:50 PM

Responding to reports today that Care Quality Commission inspectors warned the University Hospitals Birmingham Trust twice in two years over Do Not Resuscitate Orders, Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne said:

"I have warned for years that the increasing use of 'do not resuscitate' orders without consent must be challenged. This is a terrible form of elder abuse.

"It should be up to the medical practitioner in consultation with the patient to decide on whether a DNR order should be on someone's notes.

"This report is extremely concerning but at least it shows the inspection process is working. But trusts must change their procedures to take these warnings into account.

"This is also a problem in nursing homes. I personally know of cases where a nursing home itself decides which patient is resuscitated or relatives are told they must sign up to a DNR order. This is a complete abuse of the patient's right to choose.

"The use of DNR orders in this way, regardless of choice, violates the right to life under Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

"It is good news that the UK government is now moving to tackle the abuse of older people in care settings and is encouraging the CQC to be more proactive.

"We need to ensure best practice is followed, which is why I have urged an EU wide code of conduct for long term care.

"Quite often once an older person requires long term care they find it increasingly difficult to speak up for themselves. Their rights must be respected."

"Where there is abuse, it is vital that inspectors flag up concerns immediately and that health care institutions are then seen to act on them."

Ends

Notes to Editors: The Guardian reports today that since May, at least 8 NHS trusts in England have been alerted to concerns over "do not resuscitate" orders by the Care Quality Commission. As well as Birmingham, hospitals in York, Basildon, Hastings, Boston, Exeter, Bristol and Shrewsbury were also warned to stick more rigorously to local policies about when doctors decide resuscitation would not benefit a patient suffering a cardiac arrest.

West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne is a long time campaigner for the rights of older people and for more to be done to tackle elder abuse and age discrimination. She drafted the Lib Dem policy on abuse as voted through by the Birmingham conference in an amendment to a motion on Adult Social Care, calling for tougher monitoring and a non-statutory EU wide code of practice to raise standards.

She has also worked with Age UK on an oral question and resolution in the European Parliament, asking the European Commission to act on Do Not Resuscitate Orders and other issues relating to abuse. The text of the oral question and the resolution is at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?language=EN&reference=O-2010-0102&secondRef=0&type=OQ