ELDERLY hospital patients have had do not attempt to resuscitate (DNAR) forms "slipped into their discharge notes" which is leaving them living in "fear and anxiety" that they are "being left behind", a charity has warned. 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has stressed that "no-one should ever feel pressured" into singing a DNAR form.

Conservatives have called for official guidance over DNAR forms to be immediately reviewed after Age Scotland revealed the fears to MSPs. 

The charity also warned some elderly people have been told that doctors are “not going to be delivering medical treatment if you get coronavirus”, adding to the anxiety. 

Adam Stachura, head of policy and communications at Age Scotland, told Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee that patients were still being asked to sign up to the end of life decisions without consultation. 

He said: “People didn’t know what these things were - there was no instruction to ask people to do this. They weren’t asked to do this by the government, according to conversations I’ve had with the Scottish Government.  

“These things happened and it caused great confusion, fear and panic that people were just going to be written off. 

“It’s been quite confusing to try and stablish why these happened in the first place. One of things I was concerned about is who are these people on the list who are getting phone calls – what is the criteria? Is it an age? Is it an age plus certain conditions?” 

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He added: “There was a Tweet I saw from some doctor saying that ministers had asked them to do this. I asked officials in the Scottish Government and they said they didn’t, we had to respond to things we saw publicly and communicate with practices thorough the practice network. 

“We are still seeing examples of it. We are still getting calls to our helpline where people are getting these conversations but also on top of that, their family members are leaving hospital and there is a DNAR form slipped into their discharge notes. These people don’t have their own capacity of leaving hospital – they might have dementia, and the power of attorney isn’t consulted. “ 

Mr Stachura said the Scottish Government has attempted to “stamp out” any incidents it has been aware of, but he warned that “it is still happening".

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He added: “The whole point about DNAR forms is that it’s a clinical decision but there must be a conversation between the clinical person and the patient about it. Ultimately it’s about whether someone has a chance of survival in a medical procedure, but the communication behind it, people didn’t know what the devil in a DNAR form was.  

“They thought what this meant was we’re not going to get medical treatment, we’re going to be left to die if we get this. That’s also coupled with examples where you’re hearing, and they are anecdotal, of GPS and medical folk saying we’re not going to be delivering medical treatment if you get coronavirus – we'll deliver end of life care or just make you as comfortable as possible.  

“All these things together, people are going I’m 75, I’m being written off, I’m not going to get any treatment.” 

Conservatives had condemned the practice and called for families to be reassured over the allegations. 

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Miles Briggs, Tory health spokesperson said: “It is totally unacceptable to issue a patient a DNAR form without a full consultation and thorough explanation of why the form has been issued.  

“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant the NHS has had to make changes to how they operate, but the decision to not resuscitate must be entirely the decision of the patient.”  

He added: “Guidance around when a DNAR form is issued must be reviewed to ensure that there is complete transparency with the patient. 

“Families and loved ones of elderly patients will be deeply concerned that DNAR forms are being issued without the patients and their families being fully informed.” 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We have been clear that no one should ever feel pressured in any way whatsoever into giving their consent to a Do Not Attempt CPR form.

"When difficult conversations are needed with people and their families regarding their care wishes should they become seriously unwell those discussions should always be handled with the utmost compassion, care and tact.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has brought about absolutely no change to the use of Do Not Attempt CPR forms in the Scottish NHS and no change to the advice issued to GPs about their use.”