DNACPR orders

Two Merseyside GPs have expressed their concern following the BBC report on “do not resuscitate orders”.

Formby GP’s Dr Heather Ryan was appalled to hear that an ambulance service had refused to respond to a care home resident simply because his doctors had advised against treatment after cardiac arrest. She said: “Just because CPR is not likely to be successful does not mean that we should not make every effort to intervene to prevent a person from needing CPR!”

Dr John Cosgrove, Formby GP’s other doctor, explained their surprise when setting up their practice to hear that services in Merseyside do not accept the standard ReSPECT form produced by the UK Resuscitation Council and used in many other parts of the UK. This is a standardised form for doctors to use when making recommendations about treatments likely to be in a patient’s best interests should their condition suddenly deteriorate. “Whether CPR is likely to be successful is a medical opinion like any other treatment recommendation,” he explained. “It’s also really helpful to be able to set out on such a form whether a patient would want other emergency treatments such as emergency hospital admission or being put on a life support machine.”

“People dying in Merseyside are being put at risk of treatment that will do them no good, for lack of a standardised form,” he said.

Dr Ryan added: “We have even been warned that our advice might be ignored by paramedics if we use the wrong colour paper! All we want is to support our patient’s wishes to live with dignity even in their last days.”

Formby GP is a private GP surgery in Formby. They offer traditional cradle to grave care. Since they opened in January 2023, they have diagnosed terminal illnesses in patients who found it too difficult to access NHS General Practice, including one in the last days of their life.

Dr Cosgrove remarked that they found it truly an honour to be able to support people so unwell. “I just hope that we can simplify the process of advance care planning in Merseyside and, preferably, nationwide, so that more people receive the dignity they deserve and care they need when they are at their most vulnerable.”


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