Severely ill patients have been told by their GP surgery that they will not be offered a ventilator bed if they become ill with coronavirus so that resources can be “targeted to the young and fit who have a greater chance of surviving the infection”.
Llynfi Surgery in Maesteg, South Wales, reportedly sent out letters to a “small number of patients” recommending they complete “do not resuscitate” forms in case their health deteriorated after contracting coronavirus.
The letters stated that people with “significant life-limiting illnesses”, such as incurable cancer, neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease and chronic untreatable heart and lung conditions, were “unlikely to be offered hospital admission should they become unwell and certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”.
'we need to be frank and realistic': Bridgend surgery writes to vulnerable patients requesting they complete a DNACPR form. This means if they deteriorate after getting #Coronavirus emergency services will not be called and no attempt at CPR will be made. pic.twitter.com/uVti8Y8Qeu— Ben Claimant 💚 (@imajsaclaimant)March 31, 2020
It went on to state: “We would therefore like to complete a DNACPR form”, which would mean cardiopulmonary resuscitation cannot be used on them and that “in the event of a sudden deterioration in your condition because of Covid-19 infection or disease progression the emergency services will not be called and resuscitation attempts to restart your heart or breathing will not be attempted.”
The letter proceeds to provide a list of “benefits” of a DNSCPR form, including that the patient’s GP and friends and family would “know not to call 999” if they fell ill, and that “scarce ambulance resources can be targeted to the young and fit who have a greater chance of surviving the infection”.
It concludes: “We will not abandon you but we need to be frank and realistic about what the next few months holds for all of us.”
Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive at disability equality charity Scope, accused the surgery of treating disabled people cannot be treated as "expendable".
He added: “We understand the NHS is under enormous pressure and having to make complicated decisions but offensive, insensitive actions like this only heighten stress and panic during already difficult times.
“Disabled people’s lives are just as important as everyone else’s, whether we’re in a global pandemic or not."
A spokesperson for Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said: “ A letter was recently sent out from Llynfi Surgery to a small number of patients. We have been made aware that the letter has caused upset to some of the patients who received it.
“This was not the intent and the surgery apologise for any distress caused. Staff at the surgery are speaking to those patients who received the letter to apologise directly and answer any concerns they may have.”
It comes after the number of people who have died in the UK from coronavirus rose to 1,808 on Tuesday, with a further 393 deaths recorded, including a 13-year-old boy with no known underlying health conditions.
Boris Johnson told the cabinet on Tuesday that "the situation is going to get worse before it gets better – but it will get better” during a meeting by video link.