X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Blogs Coffee House

DNR notices: A matter of life and death

18 June 2014

1:51 PM

18 June 2014

1:51 PM

It was Janet Tracey’s family who brought about a change in the law regarding Do Not Resuscitate notices on patient’s notes in hospital. Thanks to their efforts, hospitals will now have to consult patients and their families before instructing medics that they shouldn’t go out of their way to provide life-saving treatment. Mrs Tracey had made perfectly clear that she wanted to be in on her own case; didn’t matter – she got a DNR notice anyway.

I’m not sure whether I was in quite this situation a couple of years ago when my mother was in St Mary’s Paddington after a fall. She succumbed to an infection which she may have contracted before coming to the hospital: don’t know. But when it was clear that her condition was deteriorating, it was I who brought it to the attention of the medics. At one point, a young female doctor told me that if it came to the worst, they wouldn’t be resuscitating; she just wanted to let me know. I was so thoroughly demoralised and am anyway so inclined to assume doctors are both omniscient and benevolent, like God, I said:  ‘whatever you think best’. It was only later that night when things were looking bad that a young male doctor came to put the same question. ‘I was told we shouldn’t resuscitate,’ I told him feebly. ‘Yes, but you’ve only got one mother, haven’t you?’ he said. It felt like a weight lifting from me. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Just do whatever it takes.’ She recovered. I’ve prayed for that young doctor ever since.

[Alt-Text]


Now what struck me then and now about the situation, and indeed about Mrs Tracey’s, is that there is a terrifying divide in treatment of the elderly between those who have family to fight their corner and those who don’t. Had my mother been childless and alone, I’m not at all sure what would have happened.

It’s the same when you get those horror stories about the abuse of the elderly or mentally infirm in care homes by people who are meant to be looking after the residents or inmates; if you don’t have the luck to have an undercover Panorama reporter on the premises or a family ruthless enough to install a camera in your room, then you’re toast if you happen to be minded by the cruel or uncaring. You’re at the mercy of the system as supervised by the Care Quality Commission. What we need for the frail elderly is a system of supervision and care, in hospitals or homes, which is as compassionate when it comes to those who don’t have relations who care about them as those who do. In terms of care homes, CCTV cameras, with unscripted inspections, should be the minimum norm – and criminal prosecutions, not warnings or sackings, for those who abuse the frail and old. When it comes to hospitals, it seems right, if a little overdue, that patients should be consulted about their own life and death.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close