Watchdog: UK patients with learning disabilities given do not resuscitate orders if they had COVID-19

Sign for NHS London Bridge vaccination centre in the UK with a tent in the background
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A watchdog group has said that patients in the United Kingdom with learning disabilities who contracted the coronavirus were given unnecessary “do not resuscitate” orders. 

Mencap, a  watchdog group aimed at helping those with learning disabilities, has said they received multiple reports from coronavirus patients with learning disabilities who were told they would not be resuscitated if their health deteriorated, according to a report from The Guardian

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,” Edel Harris, Mencap’s chief executive, told The Guardian.

The do not resuscitate orders might have cost lives during the pandemic last year, according to The Care Quality Commission, a health care regulator in the U.K., said.

According to the news source it is not immediately clear why these orders were placed on people with learning disabilities. Do not resuscitate orders are usually administered to people who cannot withstand CPR. 

New evidence also suggests that people with learning disabilities are more likely to have severe negative health consequences from the virus, according to The Guardian. 

The UK is under lockdown again as the country continues to combat the new, more infectious, UK variant of the coronavirus virus. 

In the first five weeks of their most current lockdown, the National Health Service, the UK’s publicly funded healthcare system, has found that 65 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been linked to those with disabilities, the Guardian reported. 

And despite evidence of disproportionate effects, there has been debate in the country over whether those with learning disabilities should be a priority to receive vaccinations. 

“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,” Harris said. 

The Hill has reached out to Mencap for comment.

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