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Fury as watchdog says people with learning disabilities have been given ‘do not resuscitate’ orders for COVID-19

Some people that have been diagnosed with learning disabilities have been given ‘do not resuscitate orders during the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic.


It has been reported that healthcare workers will not attempt to save the lives of some people that have learning disabilities with CPR if they succumb to COVID-19, according to an advocacy group. 

Edel Harris, Mencap’s chief executive, said: “Throughout the pandemic many people with a learning disability have faced shocking discrimination and obstacles to accessing healthcare, with inappropriate Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (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.


“The JCVI and government must act now to help save the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable people by urgently prioritising all people with a learning disability for the vaccine.”


Professor Martin Green OBE, Care England’s chief executive, said: “As the largest representative body for independent providers for adult social care, Care England remains concerned that the government has not given individuals with a learning disability a higher level of priority for the Covid vaccine.


“We urge the government to remove the arbitrary distinction between prioritising those with a severe or profound learning disability and those with a mild or moderate learning disability, and prioritise all those with a learning disability in priority group four.


“People with learning disabilities must not be overlooked at any time.”


A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care 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.


“We have asked the CQC to undertake a review of notices issued during the pandemic.


“This review has started and will report later this year. As this proceeds, we will continue to work across the health and care system to address the issue.”