Efforts in the UK to “protect” the National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 have included asking families of disabled children whether they should be resuscitated in the event their heart stopped beating.
The “do not resuscitate” orders have been offered to families of children with autism and other learning disabilities, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday (Dec. 26).
The outlet cited interviews with families who were presented with the option during routine medical appointments. For example, the mother of a 16-year-old boy with Down syndrome said a clinic employee offered her the option of a “do not resuscitate” status for her son during an exam.
“It’s a disgusting question” Kent resident mother Karen Woollard said. “The health assistant was following a form and she was very polite about it—suggesting that she knew I wouldn’t want it checked—but the question shouldn’t have come up. It was very upsetting. “
The mother of a 16-year-old boy with autism, Debbie Corns, said her son was offered a “do not resuscitate” order and initially agreed because he did not understand the question. The boy is happy and healthy and has won gold medals in swimming competitions, his mother added.
“I collapsed on the floor crying when I got home” Corns said. “I’m a strong person, but I was devastated… The doctor devalued his life.”
In what has been a reoccurring controversy for the UK, The Guardian confirmed in February 2021 that many “people with learning disabilities have been given do not resuscitate orders during the second wave of the pandemic.”
And that is despite the UK’s Care Quality Commission conclusion from over a year ago in December 2020 that inappropriate Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation notices had caused avoidable deaths during the pandemic.
Additionally, in March 2021 the Care Quality Commission determined that some patients and family members had been denied the opportunity to discuss their “do not resuscitate” status or challenge NHS decisions on whether they would be resuscitated. Hundreds of elderly care home residents were unlawfully written off, the commission found.
MOH Says Kiwis With COVID-19 Can Be Eligible For Euthanasia
An Official Information Act reply to #DefendNZ, from the Ministry of Health, which says that patients with COVID-19 could be eligible for euthanasia, has left National MP Simon O’Connor disappointed but not surprised.
Scoop Regional – In November DefendNZ wrote to the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MOH) to ask some important questions about the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand.
In light of the serious deficiencies in the End of Life Choice Act (EOLCA), and concerns that have been raised by healthcare professionals, we felt it was crucial to put some urgent questions to the MOH.
In our Official Information Act (OIA) request we asked the following question:
“Could a patient who is severely hospitalised with Covid-19 potentially be eligible for assisted suicide or euthanasia under the Act if a health practitioner viewed their prognosis as less than 6 months?”
There were several reasons why #DefendNZ wanted to seek clarity from the MOH about this issue.
Firstly, New Zealand is currently described as being in a precarious position when it comes to COVID-19 and hospital resources. In light of this, it would not be hard to envisage a situation in which a speedy and sizeable rise in COVID-19 hospitalisations could result in pressure to utilise euthanasia and assisted suicide as tools to resolve such a serious crisis.
Overseas commentators have raised the prospect of these kind of unethical motivations since early in this pandemic.
Last year’s tragic case of the elderly Canadian woman who had an assisted suicide to avoid another COVID-19 lockdown highlights exactly why caution is warranted in relation to COVID-19 and euthanasia.
“The lack of stringent safeguards in the EOLCA raised red flags with us. Could a patient with COVID-19 find their way into the eligibility criteria? And, if so, what serious risks would this pose to the already often-vulnerable elderly members of our communities?” says #DefendNZ spokesperson Henoch Kloosterboer.