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NHS England set to address DNAR concerns during COVID-19 pandemic with new guidance

Patient-facing guidelines will show how to challenge a DNACPR and access support
Picture shows a man looking at a DNACPR form and a female medic offering a pen for him to sign it

Patient-facing guidelines will show how to challenge a DNACPR and access support

NHS England will publish new national guidance on do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) notices following concerns over poor practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement comes after campaigner Kate Masters , supported by a law firm and the charity Compassion in Dying , threatened legal action against health secretary Matt Hancock in May over the lack of clear, accessible national guidance on DNAR orders.

View our COVID-19 resource centre

Concerns have been raised since the beginning of the pandemic

Patient-facing guidelines will show how to challenge a DNACPR and access support

Picture shows a man looking at a do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation form and a medic offering a pen for him to sign it
Picture: iStock

NHS England will publish new national guidance on do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) notices following concerns over poor practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The announcement comes after campaigner Kate Masters, supported by a law firm and the charity Compassion in Dying, threatened legal action against health secretary Matt Hancock in May over the lack of clear, accessible national guidance on DNAR orders. 

View our COVID-19 resource centre

Concerns have been raised since the beginning of the pandemic

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said concerns have been raised since the beginning of the pandemic about blanket applications of DNAR decisions to vulnerable groups of patients where they may lack capacity, including people with learning disabilities and autism.

‘We have made clear that it is completely unacceptable for do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) orders to be applied in a blanket fashion to any group of people,’ the spokesperson said.

‘The government has taken consistent action on a number of fronts to prevent this from happening, and NHS England is currently creating patient-facing guidelines on how to challenge a DNACPR and access support.’

But the spokesperson denied this work was a result of the threat of legal action, saying it had already been under way.

‘Lack of clarity around proper procedure can have disastrous consequences’

Compassion in Dying specialist information and support nurse Sarah Malik welcomed the news.

‘Often health and care professionals are trying hard to do right by their patients, but the lack of clarity around proper procedure for DNACPR can have disastrous consequences for the patient,’ she said.

‘This guidance is urgently and vitally needed.’


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