How many more patients were left to die as a result of this hidden prejudice? Office for National Statistics figures from last year show nearly six in 10 who died with coronavirus in England were disabled. These vulnerable people’s families have a right to know whether their beloved relatives were sacrificed on the altar of NHS capacity and so do we.
For if they were effectively regarded as “collateral damage” during a national emergency, what does it say about the treatment of patients with learning disabilities or mental illness, in general?
The pressure of the pandemic has clearly been used as an excuse to explain away some of these decisions – but there can surely be no justification for refusing to resuscitate otherwise physically healthy patients, regardless of the state of their mental faculties. And in a world when everyone seems to be banging on about discrimination of one kind or another, where is the clarion call for equality for disabled people seemingly being treated like second class citizens in a health service that is supposed to care unequivocally for all?
Patients with mental illness and learning disabilities were given “do not resuscitate” orders during the pandemic, The Telegraph can disclose.
Families, carers and doctors have said that medics decided that patients with these conditions should not be resuscitated if their heart stopped – a decision which in one case appears to have led to the patient’s death.
People with learning disabilities have been given do not resuscitate orders during the second wave of the pandemic, in spite of widespread condemnation of the practice last year and an urgent investigation by the care watchdog.