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  March 2021  
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British bishops decry discriminatory resuscitation orders
Pope Francis visits a center for disabled persons in Sicily18 February 2021. The Bishops of England and Wales issue a statement in which they describe DNACPR orders for people with learning disabilities as "shocking" and “unacceptable".

By Lisa Zengarini

Bishops of England and Wales have reacted with dismay at the issuing of blanket 'Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation' (DNACPR) orders to people with learning disabilities. According to a recent report of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the national independent regulator of health and social care,  during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, those with learning disabilities have being told they would not be resuscitated if they were taken seriously ill with the desease.

Unacceptable and immoral

In a statement released on Tuesday, Bishop Richard Moth, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Social Justice, said the bishops were “distressed” at the news, terming the issuing of such orders as “wholly unacceptable and immoral”.  

“At a time when we are being given so much hope by the efficient roll-out of the vaccination programme, it is shocking to hear that people with learning disabilities are being made the victims of such discrimination”, the prelate said. Reminding that “all human life is endowed with equal God-given dignity from the moment of conception until natural death”, he reiterated that “our worth as humans should never be determined by the status of our mental health or capacity” and that “there should be no discrimination of this kind in our health service”.

Treatment and care must be tailored to needs of individual

Bishop Moss finally renewed the call made by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales in April 2020 for access to treatment and decisions about the care of the sick “to be always focused on the specific needs of the individual, and for any conversations about these decisions to involve close and clear communication with the sick and their loved ones”.