A GP practice has apologised after sending a letter to patients with serious illnesses to complete a “do not resuscitate” form in case their conditions deteriorated due to coronavirus.
In the note, delivered to people with life-limiting illnesses, such as incurable cancer and motor neurone disease, Llynfi Surgery in Maesteg, South Wales, also said that completing the DNACPR (do not attempt CPR) form had “several benefits”.
It claimed doctors and family and friends would know not to call 999 if a loved one’s condition worsened, and therefore not use up “scarce ambulance resources”, and risk transmitting COVID-19 to others.
The letter has been published on Twitter, with a quote from a patient saying: “It made me feel worthless.
“I’ve lived with cancer for eight years and I want to live another couple of years.
“I’m not digging my grave yet.”
The note started by saying: “This is a very difficult letter for the Practice to write to you.”
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It said people with life-limiting illnesses were at much higher risk of the virus, and were “unlikely to be offered hospital admission”, and “certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”.
It ended by saying: “We will not abandon you, but we need to be frank about what the next few months holds for us.”
On Wednesday, Cwm Taf University Health Board said the letter was not a health board communication and that the surgery was apologising to patients for causing “distress”, saying that was not their intent.
A spokesman for Cwm Taf said: “A letter was recently sent out from Llynfi Surgery to a small number of patients.
“Staff at the surgery are speaking to those patients who received the letter to apologise directly and answer any concerns they may have.”
Another 563 people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus – bringing the total number of deaths to 2,352.
The deaths happened in the 24 hours before 5pm on Tuesday, the Department of Health said.
It is the largest increase so far.