The NHS drew up secret plans to refuse treatment to people aged over 70 in the event of a pandemic and to stop hospital care for those in nursing homes, it has been revealed.
Confidential government documents written following a pandemic training exercise in 2016 detailed plans to stop hospitals being overwhelmed by sacrificing vulnerable members of the population. Under the plans, the Health Secretary could allow doctors to prioritise some patients over others who were placed on an ‘end of life pathway’ in the event of a ‘severe’ flu pandemic.
It even suggests some patients should not receive any critical care at all.
Ministers have strongly denied that care homes were abandoned during the Covid pandemic despite an estimated 42,000 deaths among residents. Thousands of patients were released from hospitals into care homes to free up beds, but some believe this caused a wave of infections among care home residents.
The documents seen by The Telegraph show that the Government planned to triage patients based on their ‘probability of survival’ rather than their ‘clinical need’ if resources were stretched. The ‘confidential’ and ‘official sensitive’ documents on ‘NHS surge and triage’ and adult social care were sent to government advisers after they were drafted in 2017 and 2018.
The reports were obtained by NHS doctor Moora Qureshi who has raised concerns about the health service’s preparedness for a pandemic.