World

Elderly UK patients denied resources as doctors forced to make 'grave decisions'

Elderly UK patients denied resources as doctors forced to make 'grave decisions'
Elderly patients with COVID-19 could have an even slimmer chance of survival with doctors directed to remove life-saving ventilators in favour of younger patients, under new guidelines issued by the British Medical Association.
The guidance has been prepared for doctors who will need to make "grave decisions" about who should receive "scarce lifesaving resources" if Britain's health system is overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.
Read More:Live updates on coronavirus
Elderly patients could be denied lifesaving ventilators in favour of younger patients, under new guidelines from the British Medical Association. (aap)
"Some of the most unwell patients may be denied access to treatment such as intensive care or artificial ventilation," the British Medical Association's guidelines states.
"This will inevitably be indirectly discriminatory against both the elderly and those with long-term health conditions, with the latter being denied access to life-saving treatment as a result of their pre-existing health problems."
Older patients with pre-existing respiratory problems will be given lower priority for admission as they would have a "very high chance of dying despite intensive care," according to the British Medical Association.
The UK government has previously warned the country's health system could be overwhelmed if strict social distancing measures are not followed. (AP/AAP)
However, the guidelines state that imposing an age cut-off would be illegal.
"In dangerous pandemics the ethical balance of all doctors and health care workers must shift towards the utilitarian objective of equitable concern for all – while maintaining respect for all as 'ends in themselves,'" the guidelines state.
The UK government has previously warned the country's health system could be overwhelmed if strict social distancing measures are not followed.