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A legal challenge has been launched over the way in which Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are being issued during the coronavirus crisis without allegedly sufficient consultation with patients or their families.
Lawyers representing Kate Masters, who brought a case over such orders in 2014, have written to the Department of Health and Social Care warning that the way in which DNRs are made are currently unlawful.
I have watched with alarm as reports of blanket DNR orders in care homes and failures to consult with patients and their families have been reported in the news since the start of the coronavirus crisis. After all that my dad did to fight to clarify the law regarding DNRs I am determined to ensure that my human rights and those of others are not breached due to a lack of government direction.
DNRs imposed in circumstances where patients and their families have no or little information, and no consultation, often lead to a complete breakdown in trust and numerous stories reported in the media show how common it is that patients and families believe these cannot be imposed without consent. Healthcare professionals are already overburdened, our client believes it is time for the government to step up and give national guidance that will ensure consistent and lawful decision-making at a local level and also ensure patients’ fundamental human rights are being upheld.
In a pre-Covid PMQs a Tory prime minister who was riding high in the opinion polls and who was returning to the House of Commons after an illness that left him in intensive care would have been welcomed by such a wall of noise that it would have been hard for any opposition leader to make much of a mark. But, of course, there is no chance of PMQs resuming its shouting match status any time soon (one of the few benefits of this ghastly crisis) and instead Boris Johnson was left looking exposed and diminished as he faced Sir Keir Starmer for the first time.
As had been widely expected, Starmer was impressive – focused, calm, and rational. His interventions today were crisper than in his previous two outings (probably an improvement), and he always ended with a very direct question, simple yet incriminating. No doubt he could manage in a rowdy Commons, but the courtroom silence seems to suit him better, and the overall impression left by the encounter was of a rather floundering prime minister struggling to respond to a full-on grown-up channelling the questions a critical nation wants answering.