MINISTERS believe the "panic" around the Covid-19 outbreak may have led to some elderly patients being pressures into signing do not attempt to resuscitate (DNAR) orders, MSPs have heard.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman have repeatedly condemned the practice where some doctors have reportedly pressed patients into agreeing to the orders.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie told Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee that the “panic” amongst health officials over fears the NHS could have to deal with a wave of hospital patients, could have contributed to the practice.

Age Scotland has previously warned MSPs that elderly hospital patients have had DNAR forms “slipped into their discharge notes”, leading to them living in “fear and anxiety”.

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

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Elderly hospital patients having do not resuscitate forms 'slipped into discharge notes'

Ms McKelvie told MSPs that the Scottish Government “don’t know” why health professional have not been following advice over the issue.

She added: "Our guidance didn't change, our guidance to GPs and other health professionals didn't change.

"I think there was a bit of a panic at the beginning thinking that the health service would be overwhelmed. It came along with the virus as part of a lot of the concerns that came up."

The Equalities Minister warned that a letter was sent out from a GP practice in Wales as the pandemic was starting to take hold, which she claimed led to "a lot of medical professionals possibly thinking we should have done this".

READ MORE: Hospital and care home staff to wear face masks 'throughout their shift' under new guidelines

Ms McKelvie added DNAR orders should be brought up with patients "as part of a gentle anticipatory care plan in a way that respects and support people's dignity and human rights".

She stressed that updated guidance for GPs and other health professionals will be made available “very, very soon”.

She added: “We need to get this right, maintain people's human rights, maintain their dignity and not just scare the bejesus out of people, because that's what it was doing."