Lord Alton of Liverpool – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool on 2015-12-10.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any disciplinary action is being taken against the doctors at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate who listed Down’s syndrome and learning difficulties among the reasons for issuing a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Lord Prior of Brampton

The Department expects National Health Service trusts and NHS foundation trusts to have in place local policies on resuscitation that are based on expert professional guidance. We have commended, as a basis for local policies, professional guidance, Decisions Relating to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (2014), published jointly by the British Medical Association, the Resuscitation Council (UK) and the Royal College of Nursing. The guidance is clear that any resuscitation decision must be tailored to the individual circumstances of the patient and must not be made on the basis of blanket assumptions. A copy of the guidance is attached.

Where a person lacks capacity to make decisions about their care or treatment, the Mental Capacity Act makes clear that doctors must act in the best interests of patients. Doctors must take account as far as possible of the known wishes of the person and consult with relatives and colleagues as appropriate to help inform their decision.

Departmental officials have recently contacted the Trust about recent media coverage concerning an incident when Down’s syndrome was listed as a reason to issue a Do Not Resuscitate order. The Trust confirms it accepts that it failed to consult with the family and has apologised unreservedly for this isolated incident by a junior doctor.

In regards to any disciplinary action taken against the doctor this would be an operational issue for the Foundation Trust. We have written to Ms Nikki Cole, Chair of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust informing her of the Noble Lord’s enquiry. She will reply shortly and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.