United Kingdom

Grandmother, 74, 'is persuaded by her GP to waive emergency treatment'

A 74-year-old grandmother was 'persuaded by her GP to waive emergency treatment' if she were to contract Covid-19 and simply die at home.

Margaret Emerson, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is at a high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, unwittingly agreed she would not call an ambulance if she were to succumb to the illness and instead 'die at home than alone in hospital'.

Mrs Emerson's daughter, Maggie Ilsley, said her mother was contacted 'out of the blue' by her doctor at the Courtside Practice in Yate, near Bristol, who asked her a series of questions about what she would prefer to happen if she contracted the virus. 

However it was not until the end that she realised she had just agreed to waive emergency treatment if she contracted coronavirus.

Ms llsley, who claims that the decision was framed for her mother as a choice between dying alone in hospital or at home, said: 'She had no warning about the call, and no idea what it was really about until it began to dawn on her from the questions the doctor was asking her.  

Maggie Ilsley (right) said the questions her mother Margaret Emerson (left), 74, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), was asked a series of questions about what she would prefer to happen if she contracted coronavirus without any time to think

'It was about what kind of care would she receive, and she signed that she's not going to have an ambulance called out.

'It was framed for her as a choice between dying alone in hospital, or dying at home with her family there.'

Ms Ilsley first raised the issue on Facebook in a lengthy post which read: 'My mum (74 and on the extremely vulnerable list had a phone call late today when she was on her own from her GP.

'She's too upset to talk about it atm (sic) but has unwittingly with no time to think answered a whole realm of questions resulting in her medical records being updated to state that were she to get Covid-19 she will NOT go to hospital and will NOT be receiving any treatment?!!!!

'The GP even confirmed that her responses were being entered onto the system and that the hospitals and ambulances would have access to them and know not to attend to her. How on earth?? I'm sickened beyond words.

'Why are our GPs phoning our elderly vulnerable loved ones unannounced with absolutely no forewarning, no time to think, no time to talk things through with loved ones, no breathing space to make sure they understand the implications of what they're being asked...with a list of questions aimed at them going on record there & then to refuse treatment and even an ambulance in the event they get Covid-19???

'How can that be morally right and allowed to happen?! What has our society come to??

'How can they phone vulnerable people out the blue and ask if they'd rather die at home than alone in hospital??

Ms Ilsley took to Facebook to tell others that her mother had been phoned 'out of the blue' and asked if she would 'rather die at home than alone in hospital'

'Are they trying to guilt trip or trick our extremely vulnerable loved ones, who may have no idea and be totally alone and caught off guard, into sacrificing themselves for those 'they' deem more worthy? This is so wrong. On so many levels.'

The daughter went on to question if her mother had been asked to 'sign her life away' so that she could 'die at home in isolation' and urged the public to protect their 'vulnerable loved ones'.

She continued: 'And how would they know my mum even had Covid-19 if they're only testing on hospital admission?

'Has she just been asked to sign her life away, die at home in isolation, regardless?! I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight. Our vulnerable need protecting now! This is beyond scandalous.

'[My mum] has COPD & heart disease but has been living with these conditions for almost 20 years.

'She does not have or require home oxygen and manages her condition with medication. She lives alone and is totally independent.

'She's following guidelines and is living in self isolation. She's the rock that holds our family together. You will never meet such a selfless woman.'     

A spokesperson for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, the group covering Mrs Emerson's clinic, today said: 'We are very sorry to hear about this patient's experience, and we are following up with the practice.

'In the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area we use the nationally developed ReSPECT process to guide informed discussion about people's choices and preferences in the event of a medical emergency.

'Given the current Covid-19 situation, it's important that as far as possible we understand people's wishes in relation to treatment if they become acutely unwell.

'However, ReSPECT discussions should take place in a compassionate and sensitive way, that allow people and their families to reflect on their options and have their concerns listened to.

'It's also important to make clear that ReSPECT is not a binding document.

'It is a record of someone's feelings at the time the discussion took place, and should be a starting point to help clinicians, patients and families to make decisions about effective treatment in an emergency.'

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