Karin Smyth MP presses the Government to commit to a public awareness campaign on the use of Do Not Resuscitate notices during the pandemic
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, questioned the Government this week on what assessments had been made on the use of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notices during the pandemic following concerns raised by recent reports from Compassion in Dying and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The Compassion in Dying report raised the issue that many people who have lost their lives during the pandemic did so without their loved ones by their side, and, crucially, without the opportunity to be involved in decisions about their own care and treatment. The CQC report likewise noted that there have been “worrying variations” in people’s experiences of DNR decisions during the pandemic, including people not being properly involved in the decision of implementing a DNR notice or being unaware that such a decision about their care had even been made.
In response to Ms Smyth’s questioning, the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health said the Government would follow the CQC report’s recommendations in setting up a Ministerial Oversight Group in order to make improvements to people’s experiences of compassionate care, but Ms Smyth urged the Minister to go further, and commit to a public awareness campaign that would ensure patients are fully aware of the process of making DNR decisions and are able to exercise choice in their end of life care.
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:
“It is important that people have as much choice about treatment at the end of their life as they expect at all other stages in their lifetime. Concerns have been growing throughout the pandemic that DNR decisions are being made without properly involving the patients, and people who may want a DNR notice not being able to exercise this choice. I was shocked to read reports from the CQC and Compassion in Dying confirming that many examples of this have happened during the pandemic.
“DNR notices should be made based on each individual’s needs, and it is vital that people feel they have a voice in the DNR decision-making process. This is a sensitive, yet crucial issue, and one on which the Government needs to take more responsibility in ensuring that the concerns raised by the CQC and Compassion in Dying reports are carefully and thoroughly addressed.
“Lessons learnt from the pandemic can and should be seen as a catalyst to having more open and honest discussions around DNR decision-making and advanced care planning more generally. I firmly believe that a public awareness campaign is urgently needed to ensure that patients are placed at the heart of this process.”