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The BBC's Lisa Holland
"Mencap claims the orders are being made without consultation"
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Monday, 1 May, 2000, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
NHS 'discriminating' against disabled
Intensive care treatment
Charities want resuscitation procedures examined
A leading charity has joined the call for an independent inquiry into the use of "do not resuscitate" orders in hospitals and care homes.

Richard Kramer, head of campaigns for Mencap, the charity for people with learning disabilities, claims orders are being issued without proper consultation.

"Not for resuscitation" orders are made when medical staff feel a patient's quality of life would be so poor that resuscitation is not warranted.

Cases demonstrate that doctors are making life judgements and applying substandards to people because of their disability

Richard Kramer

Age Concern raised similar concerns last month claiming discrimination against elderly patients appears to be rife in the NHS.

Mr Kramer said: "Mencap is concerned that non-resuscitation orders are being placed on patients' case notes without proper consultation with disabled people or their carers.

"Cases demonstrate that doctors are making life judgements and applying substandards to people because of their disability.

"It is vital that disabled people have confidence that their health needs will be met and their lives are not simply written off by doctors."

The charity would like to see an inquiry to ensure disabled people receive the same standard of health treatment as anybody else.

Legal duty

"Decisions on non-resuscitation should only be made following a discussion with the patient.

"If the disabled person cannot communicate their wishes there should be a legal duty on doctors to consult with carers."

Age Concern made a similar call last month after highlighting the case of 67-year-old cancer patient Jill Baker, who found "not for resuscitation" written on her medical notes.

Jill Baker
Jill Baker found her medical notes marked "not for resuscitation"
Thousands of people called to complain that they or their relatives suffered age discrimination from the NHS following publicity from this case, says the charity.

Another 40 "not for resuscitation" cases have been unearthed, and a Department of Health inquiry into Mrs Baker's case ruled her treatment breached British Medical Association guidelines for doctors.

Age Concern claims the problem is spread throughout the country, with cases reported in areas such as Cambridge, Manchester and the south coast.

The charity plans to send the results of its investigation to Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

The government has pledged to stamp out age discrimination in the NHS, and deputy chief medical officer Dr Sheila Adam has announced plans to publish a blueprint for care of the elderly next year.

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13 Apr 00 | Health
NHS ageism row sparks action
14 Apr 00 | Health
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