Inappropriate application of ‘Do not Resuscitate’ Notices – Never Again

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
3 July 2023

Conference notes that UNISON has campaigned vigorously on behalf of disabled people.

Disabled people across the UK have a right to equal access to health care just like anyone else. Yet the potentially unlawful use of ‘Do not Resuscitate’ notices for fit and healthy people during the COVID-19 pandemic was discriminatory and put lives in danger.

Covid-19 had a devastating impact on society as a whole but the effect on people with a disability was catastrophic. The number of people who died with Covid-19 who were disabled was more than double than those with no disability. People who have a disability were not only denied essential services, hospital appointments, ability to attend day centres, access to respite, access to food, if they contracted Covid. Many had ‘Do not Resuscitate’ notices put in place against their will and or knowledge. This was the case even when the only disability was ASD and there was no physical reason the person would not

have responded to treatment the same as any other person. This was brought to light by Mencap and reported in the Guardian newspaper. The Care Quality Commission stated in their review into the application of ‘Do not Resuscitate’ decisions, that the inappropriate application of ‘Do not Resuscitate’ notices had caused potentially avoidable deaths. This can never be allowed to happen again. No one has the right to be denied their basic human right to life

This unacceptable practice cannot be repeated. Please support. This was blatant discrimination supported by the government who approved the NICE guidance regarding using the clinical fragility scale which allowed this situation to come about.

Conference therefore calls upon the National Disabled Committee to:

Campaign and lobby for a UK-wide examination of ‘Do not Resuscitate’ policy, practice and procedure across all heath care settings to ensure better monitoring and controls are in place in the application of ‘Do not Resuscitate’ notices to protect disabled people’s rights.