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Doctors assumed Disabled people not capable of discussing care

04 March 2021

A report by the British Institute of Human Rights said that doctors assumed elderly and Disabled people were not capable of discussing how they should be treated and as a consequence, do not attempt resuscitation orders were applied at a higher rate for Disabled and elderly people in the early part of the pandemic amid fears that Covid cases would overwhelm the NHS.

Of the cases the British Institute looked at, only one in four do not resuscitate orders saw a formal assessment undertaken to see if a patient had the opportunity to discuss their care.

Over half of nurses, social workers and managers surveyed for the report said they believed discrimination happens at least sometimes in decisions over do not resuscitate orders.

Over 40% said it was assumed that Disabled people with a do not resuscitate order on their file did “not have mental capacity” to have input into their care.

The report has been submitted to the Care Quality Commission’s inquiry into the orders.

Sanchita Hosali, Director of the Institute, told the Financial Times that the issues with the orders were “deeply rooted in the daily discrimination faced by disabled people and older people”.

Fazilet Hadi, Dr UK Head of Policy said “This report is extremely important. It reveals that behind the issue of blanket DNAR notices lies the deeper and more fundamental issue of systemic discrimination against Disabled and older people within the NHS. During this pandemic, it has often felt like Disabled people’s lives aren’t valued equally and unfortunately this report shows this to be the case. The NHS and professional health bodies,  need to take urgent action to challenge negative attitudes and poor processes, which are putting our health and our lives at risk.”

Find out more about the British Institute of Human Rights on their website.