BMA NI comment on care home deaths

by BMA Northern Ireland Press release from BMA Northern Ireland.
Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Friday 17 April 2020
Contract and pen article illustration

Dr Tom Black, BMA NI Council chair said:

'It is distressing for anyone to lose a family member due to Covid 19 whether that is in a hospital, care home, hospice or family home, but we need to get a clear picture of how our population is being affected as this will help us plan our services in the most effective way.

'Unfortunately most people in care homes will be at greater risk of coronavirus as they will generally have co-morbidities, which means they have more than one illness and this increases their risk from the virus as their overall health is poorer.

'Care home residents will also frequently have in place an advance care plan where they and their family have had the chance to discuss with their GP and others involved in their care what sort of treatment they would like at the end of their life.

'I would strongly encourage families with a loved one in a care home to ensure this is in place now and that, difficult and distressing though it is, they have had a conversation where they agree what they want to do in terms of end of life care.

'It is much easier to do this in advance than when under pressure to take a decision about what interventions you want undertaken.

'In general, it wouldn't be appropriate to transfer someone who is at the end of their life to hospital to allow them to die in hospital if that isn't medically necessary.

'Measures are being put in place for geriatricians to come out to care homes to advise and supervise on care and care home staff are linking in with hospital teams to ensure that residents are getting the very best palliative care.

'We would also agree with the CNO, that verification of life extinct is not a role that is confined to a medically trained practitioner and should and historically has been extended to a range of other health care workers including nurses, paramedics and also including the police and fire brigade.

'Certification remains the role of the medical practitioner and if there are any concerns they will raise these with the coroner in the usual and well established manner. The extension of training in this matter is very important to ensure effective care and effective use of time of all health care professionals.'

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

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