‘Do not resuscitate’ orders for people with learning disabilities ‘immoral’

Do not resuscitate disabilities

Bishops of England and Wales have stated ‘do not resuscitate orders’ for Britons with learning disabilities are “wholly unacceptable and immoral.”

Bishop Richard Moth, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Deparment for Social Justice, has issued a statement expressing distress that people with learning disabilities have been given Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) orders during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.K.

The orders were issued locally by National Health Service trusts, which run public hospitals.

“In a time when we are being given so much hope by the efficient rollout of the vaccination program, it is shocking to hear that people with learning disabilities are being made the victims of such discrimination,” said Bishop Moth.

Their caregivers “have shown deep love and compassion during the pandemic ensuring they are as safe as possible,” he said.

“It is wholly unacceptable and immoral to suggest that the challenges which some people with learning disabilities face with communicating symptoms should make them candidates for a DNACPR order.”

The government said it does not support the practice. It has notified all health care providers to desist, threatening further action to halt the practice if necessary.

Moth continued “the issuing of such orders in a blanket fashion ignores the unique gift of each person. There should be no discrimination of this kind in our health service,” he added.

Mencap, a leading U.K. charity for people with learning disabilities, raised concerns about the orders in a Feb. 13 article in the London-based Guardian newspaper.

Some members were complaining that the do not resuscitate orders were being issued for patients simply because they had learning disabilities. This normally occurs only when a patient is too frail to benefit from cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The charity also says that people with learning disabilities are being overlooked in the distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus.

A statement from Department of Health and Social Care Feb. 17 said: “It is completely unacceptable for ‘do not attempt CPR’ decisions to be applied in a blanket fashion to any group of people. This has never been policy, and we have taken action to prevent this from happening.


Detroit Catholic

Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales


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