A UK doctor’s surgery has apologised after controversially encouraging its sickest patients to sign “do not resuscitate” orders amid the coronavirus crisis.
Llynfi Surgery in South Wales issued a public mea culpa after sending letters to seriously ill local residents, including those with incurable cancer, motor neurone disease, and untreatable heart and lung ailments, outlining “several benefits” of completing “do not attempt CPR” forms. The letters were soon shared by a number of shocked and distressed recipients on social media, with many other users voicing their outrage in response.
The letter warns that as hospitals are deluged with Covid-19 patients, they were “unlikely to be offered hospital admissions” and “certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed” - completing the form would mean “scarce ambulance resources can be targeted to the young and fit” who have a greater chance of recovering from the virus.
'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
“This is a very difficult letter for the practice to write to you…We would therefore like to complete a DNACPR form for you which we can share…which will mean in the event of a sudden deterioration in your condition because [of] Covid infection or disease progression emergency services will not be called and resuscitation attempts to restart your heart or breathing will not be attempted,” the letter begins.
“For most people with these conditions, the best option is to remain at home and be cared for by [friends] and family with ongoing support from ourselves and community nursing services…We will not abandon you but we need to be frank and realistic…” the letter concludes.
A care assistant in a 20 person care home in S Wales said that staff had been frightened after a doctor asked each resident if they would prefer to stay in the home if the contracted CV19 and all said they wanted to stay.— Fionna O'Leary, 🕯#FBPE (@fascinatorfun) April 1, 2020
But the staff are not equipped or trained. pic.twitter.com/4A8hMEu6yF
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board issued a statement denying it’d ordered the letter be sent, and stating the surgery has apologised for “upset” caused to patients.
“A letter was recently sent out from Llynfi surgery to a small number of patients. This was not a health board communication. The surgery have been made aware that the letter has caused upset to some of the patients who received it. This was not their intent and they 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,” the statement reads.
The controversial letter comes as UK health chiefs confirm a further 393 people diagnosed with Covid-19 have died, bringing the death toll to 1,801 as of 1st April.