01785 223440      team@orj.co.uk

DNR scandal proves LPA importance

One of our leading lawyers has stressed the importance of having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, after a watchdog found doctors breached human rights by making do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders without consultation.

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman found failings in cases involving at least 13 patients, including evidence that, during the pandemic, doctors did not even inform the patient or their family that a DNR order had been made.

During the pandemic several reports emerged of DNR orders on elderly people and patients with learning disabilities, including a 58-year-old woman with schizophrenia.

Fiona Mainwaring, Head of Wills and Probate at ORJ, said an LPA for Health and Welfare was the only way for someone to ensure their wishes are honoured if they become incapacitated.

She said: “Many people are not aware that life-sustaining decisions are made without their knowledge or the knowledge of their family. 

“People are still under the misconception that whoever they consider to be their next of kin will be consulted – but this is no longer the case. 

“To ensure that their wishes regarding end-of-life care are carried out, it is vitally important to have an LPA for Health and Welfare in place so that they may appoint a family member or trusted friend to be included in any clinical decisions that may need to be made.”

A Health and Welfare LPA allows someone to choose one or more people to make decisions about their daily routine as well as matters such as medical care, moving into a care home and life-sustaining medical treatment.

It can only be used if the person becomes unable to make their own decisions.

There are other LPAs available, including a Property and Financial Affairs LPA and a Business LPA for businessowners.

Only around 15% of people in the UK have an LPA in place and, typically, people only consider putting one in place as they get older or their health begins to fail.

But Fiona said: “I’d urge people not to wait until it’s too late. Sadly, catastrophic events can happen at any stage of life that leave you unable to make decisions yourself.

“It can be very reassuring to know that a trusted family member or friend will act in your best interests should the need arise.”

Setting up an LPA, though relatively inexpensive, can be a lengthy and complex process and professional guidance is advised.

Need help? Email fiona.mainwaring@orj.co.uk or call 01785 223440 to discuss.