'Disgust' as people with learning disabilities put under ‘do not resuscitate’ orders

Ipswich Mencap chair Barbara Thorn's three children, Ian, Dorothy and John

Ipswich Mencap chair Barbara Thorn's three children, Ian, Dorothy and John - Credit: Barbara Thorn

Ipswich Mencap has launched a petition after national reports that people have been given ‘do not resuscitate’ orders when ill with Covid-19, just because they have learning disabilities.

The charity was warned in January that people were still being given Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) notices, despite a report in December condemning the practise.

The Quality Care Commission found the notices had caused potentially avoidable deaths in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mencap says while the notices are usually reserved for those unable to benefit from CPR, people with learning disabilities are being discriminated against by being told they won't be resuscitated.

Barbara Thorn, chair of Ipswich Mencap and mother-of-three, has called the practise 'disgusting' and said: "I have had many parents contact me about this report and they are concerned that  if their children get ill, they might be given one of these forms and don't know what will happen if they do.

"My daughter would say yes to anything if she was alone in hospital because she might not understand fully what was going on, so at a time where parents aren't always allowed to stay in hospital with their adult children it's a big fear.

"I will fight tooth and nail for my children and will not back down — if I found out my child was in hospital and given that without being consulted I would hold them over hot coals.

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"We're almost going backwards in time when it comes to rights."

Nearly 1,000 people have already signed the Change.org petition and chief executive of Mencap Edel Harris has spoken up about the need for healthcare equality. 

“Throughout the pandemic many people with a learning disability have faced shocking discrimination and obstacles to accessing healthcare, with inappropriate DNACPR notices put on their files and cuts made to their social care support.

“It’s unacceptable that within a group of people hit so hard by the pandemic, and who even before Covid died on average over 20 years younger than the general population.

"Many are left feeling scared and wondering why they have been left out."

To sign the petition click here.

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