DNACPR notices during COVID-19

We are extremely concerned by continued reports of individuals with Covid-19 receiving Do Not Resuscitate notices solely due to their learning disability. Mencap received reports in January 2021 from people with learning disabilities that they had been told they would not be resuscitated if they were taken ill with Covid-19.

NHS England and Improvement wrote to Primary Care and Acute and Community Trusts on 3rd April 2020 highlighting ‘Treatment decisions should not be made on the basis of the presence of learning disability and / or autism alone.’

CQC are due to publish the findings of their review into inappropriate DNACPRs during the Covid-19 pandemic soon. The interim findings, published in December 2020 can be found here.

Accessing healthcare can be challenging for children and adults with a learning disability and/ or autism under normal circumstances. It is well established that this group faces significant health inequalities. The latest NHS figures show that in the five weeks since the third lockdown began, Covid-19 accounted for 65% of deaths of people with learning disabilities. Although NICE critical care guidelines were adjusted early in the pandemic to remove working age adults with learning disabilities from the frailty scale, the latest findings show this remains an area of great concern and highlights the need for vigilance during this period. 


For information about supporting your relative with learning disabilities with health related issues, and about decision making, please see our website here.

If your relative has a severe learning disability you can call our helpline on 0300 666 0126 for more information.


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