Patients are being asked whether they would agree to a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order by district nurses they have not met before, it has been claimed.
Health policy analyst Roy Lilley told the Daily Mail that the question was inappropriate, especially if asked by a healthcare visitor who has never met the patient before.
The NHS England scheme involves a questionnaire to be used by nurses visiting elderly patients at home.
Mr Lilley said he had been contacted by relatives of elderly patients with concerns about the form, including two that he said were asked over the phone.
“This question should only be used if appropriate and that would be wrong on a first visit”
An NHS England spokeswoman confirmed the question is on the forms, but said it is not advised on a first visit.
“Nurses should always use their discretion and compassion when dealing with patients, especially on such sensitive issues,” said the spokeswoman.
“As the form says this question should only be used if appropriate and that would be wrong on a first visit.”
Mr Lilley told the newspaper his mother had been visited by a nurse with the form.
He said: “Elderly, frail but otherwise healthy people are being asked, by complete strangers, to sign a form agreeing they shouldn’t be resuscitated. It is outrageous.”
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These questions are usually only asked when the nurse has developed a good and meaningful relationship with the patient.
“It is truly extraordinary within a few minutes of meeting someone to ask them where they want to die and to sign a form. Nurses shouldn’t be put in that position,” he told the Mail.