I don't believe family-carers and relatives, are being told the truth about how the law applies to them.

mike stone 30/09/22 Dignity Champions forum

I was recently invited, on Twitter, to try and explain to a long-serving clinician why I am deeply-annoyed by things written by various 'clinical organisations' about the 'role of' family-carers and relatives during EoL/MCA/CPR. I can't really do it on Twitter, so I'm doing it here.

I wish to thank Professors Jenny and Celia Kitzinger for a teaching tool they have placed online, about the 'Briggs' court case: I have shamelessly reproduced part of the teaching tool in my PDF. I also wish to thank the lawyer Ben Troke, for his book about the law around medical treatments, and I have used a couple of things Ben wrote in his book during my analysis.

I have recently exchanged some e-mails with the GMC, and they are also shown in the PDF. My original question to the GMC, was about the migration of records to online systems - as it happens, the GMC reply to that [which in my opinion does not answer my question] fits in with the topic I'm discussing in the PDF.

I am going to copy-and-paste from the PDF, and I've got my fingers crossed that what follows will post without 'de-formatting' and appearing as 'scrambled text': that sometimes happens, I don't understand why it happens, and I definitely do not understand how to stop it from happening! All I can say, is the text is not scrambled BEFORE I click on 'submit'.

I wrote the following at the end of my PDF:

I will point something out at this point. On page 202 of his book, Ben Troke says ‘My narrow qualification for this is 20 years or so as a lawyer only for clinicians and hospitals’. Alex has probably been on both sides of court cases, but in my view while both Alex and Ben usually see the law as fundamentally meaning the same as what I believe it means (and Ben has written many things in his book, which are virtually identical to things I have written in my pieces), I am inclined to think that both of them are less-focussed-on ‘what the law must mean from the family-carer perspective’ than I am.

Because of my own experience of what happened after my own mother’s EoL death at home, I am deeply sceptical as to how well police officers understand the complexity of what I term ‘communication and the communication chain’ during End-of-Life-at-Home. And if people such as police officers ‘take their understanding of the role of’ family-carers during EoL-at-Home from what the RC(UK)/ReSPECT in particular, writes, then they are being misled about what I will here term ‘the independent agency of family-carers’. What organisations such as the RC(UK) are publishing about the legal situation of relatives and family-carers, is in my opinion ‘beyond misleading but not necessarily a downright lie’ – it simply isn’t acceptable, in my opinion, if you look at the situation from the perspective of a family-carer, relative or patient.

And this, is a section of my PDF which most concisely explains what angers me:

So – I think I can now, for CPR, ‘explain’ why I’m pretty-much infuriated by what we family-carers, friends and relatives are told about ‘our role in/during CPR’ is by the RC(UK), etc.

Suppose, I’m a family-carer who is sharing a home with a ‘dying’ loved-one. If I have some understanding of how to attempt CPR (and CPR is being promoted and taught as first-aid), and I want to work out ‘what ‘rules’ apply if my loved-one’s heart seems to have stopped beating (in other words, I want to know if I should attempt or withhold CPR)’, then:

If I look at Ben Troke’s book, it seems that whatever the RC(UK) and/or the GMC says, provided I’ve applied MCA section 4 satisfactorily I can attempt CPR if I believe that is in my loved-one’s best interests. If I read what ReSPECT has written, I’m told that I cannot ‘make decisions’ about CPR. If I decide that it is in my loved-one’s best interests for me to withhold CPR, then subsequently I could state that to any 999 staff who become involved


OR I can tell 999 staff ‘I thought my dad’s heart had stopped – and I carried on reading my newspaper’: because, lawyers will tell us ‘you do not have a legal duty to intervene – you don’t need to do anything’ (which is likely to work in the sense that after you had been harassed by the police, it would turn out that you couldn’t be charged with an offence).


Associated files and links: