'Where do you want to die?' GP asks high-risk patients

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A GP is asking people at high risk from coronavirus to decide where they want to die in a video-blog about the ‘difficult realities’ of the outbreak.

Dr Andy Knox, who is director of population health for Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, claims those most vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, will be contacted by their GPs in the coming weeks about ‘care planning’.

He urges them to think about whether they want to spend their final days at home or in hospital, whether they want to be put on ventilators and whether medics should try to resuscitate them in the event of heart failure.

Care planning, or ‘anticipatory care’ is generally used to refer to palliative care situations where doctors try to reduce suffering and improve quality of life in those with life-threatening illnesses.

Addressing higher-risk patients in a YouTube video posted to his website, ReimaginingHealth.com, Dr Knox says: ‘We’re not trying to coerce you into any decision. We’re not trying to withhold anything from you.

‘We just want to have a really honest, upfront conversation with you about what’s important to you in your care.’

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He warns vulnerable patients they may also want to think about their wills, arranging Power of Attorney as well as ‘spiritual or religious beliefs that need attending to’.

‘Perhaps that there are conversations that you need to have or old hurts that need to be forgiven; things that need to be put right.’

‘No-one wants to have difficult conversations, but actually if we don’t have them, often it makes it much harder for the people we leave behind.’

End-of-life have proven controversial as the coronavirus outbreak continues to strain medical resources and put more vulnerable people’s lives at risk.

On Wednesday a GP surgery in Wales apologised after sending a letter to patients with life-limiting illnesses to complete a ‘do not resuscitate’ form.

The form would mean emergency services would not be called if they became unwell due to the coronavirus.

Patients with severe conditions such as motor neurone disease and pulmonary fibrosis were told they were unlikely to get a hospital bed.

Power of Attorney gives a patient’s loved ones the ability to make decisions on their behalf on finances, property and medical care.

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