|God alone now can 'save' the NHS|
Courtesy of BBC News
'A man with Down's syndrome is suing an NHS trust over a hospital's decision to issue a do-not-resuscitate order giving his disability as one of the reasons.The instruction not to attempt resuscitation in the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest was issued without his family's knowledge. Their lawyers describe the order as "blatant discrimination".'
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust says it complied fully with guidance from professional bodies. The family of the man, who can be identified only as AWA because of a court order, remained unaware of the do-not-resuscitate (DNR) decision until he had returned from hospital to his care home.
The DNR form, issued while he was in hospital in Margate a year ago, was listed as an indefinite decision, meaning it would cover the duration of his stay in hospital, with no provision for review.
The reasons given were "Down's syndrome, unable to swallow (Peg [percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy] fed), bed bound, learning difficulties". AWA, 51, has dementia and was having a special tube fitted to help him with feeding.
The form says there was no discussion with his next of kin because they were "unavailable", but the family say they visited him in hospital "virtually every day" - and a carer from his home sometimes attended too.
One of AWA's close relatives, who is pursuing the legal action on his behalf, said: "Until his dementia started three years ago, he had a really hectic social life. He loved parties, discos and going to church.
"He was looked after at home for as long as possible, but then we got him into a nice care home. His health deteriorated a bit - he had eating problems and couldn't swallow - so the decision was taken to have a Peg inserted so he could receive medication, foods and liquids.
"He was admitted to hospital for a fortnight. When he was discharged, one of the carers at his home was unpacking his bag and found the DNR form, to their horror. "We weren't aware of the DNR until then. We were very angry and quite distressed, especially as he'd been re-admitted that day because he'd got pneumonia.
"Since November last year, he's been right as rain. He has a specially adapted chair, takes part in various activities and is conscious of everybody around him most of the time. "He has a good way of life now, but somebody wasn't prepared to give him the time of day."
AWA and his family are represented by solicitor Merry Varney, from Leigh Day and Co.She said: "This is definitely one of the most extreme cases we have seen of a DNR order being imposed on a patient without consent or consultation.
"To use Down's syndrome and learning difficulties as a reason to withhold lifesaving treatment is nothing short of blatant discrimination. "If an individual was physically preventing a doctor from administering life-saving treatment to a disabled relative, it would undoubtedly be a matter for the police, yet we see doctors taking this decision without consent or consultation regularly."
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