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NICOLA STURGEON was quizzed on Scotland’s approach to testing and “do not resuscitate orders” at a virtual question-and-answer session with party leaders today.
At the online meeting of parliamentary leaders, the first of its kind, the First Minister agreed to consider extending coronavirus tests to the relatives of people receiving end-of-life care, so they can visit their loved ones.
The commitment was secured by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard who said that family members were in a state of significant distress as a result of being unable to spend time with terminally ill relatives.
Mr Leonard said: “It is absolutely right that hospitals and hospices are taking all precautions necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We must also remember that as far as we humanly can we should avoid people dying alone, and avoid putting families in distress because they fear they will be unable to see their loved ones before they die.
“That is why compassionate testing should be urgently explored.”
Ms Sturgeon said that she would look at the issue “very carefully,” but reminded Mr Leonard that there was a “limit” to the capacity of tests and when these can be carried out.
The SNP leader was also questioned on the reported signing of do not resuscitate (DNR) orders by some patients.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said that some people treated by doctors felt “shocked” at the proposed use of DNRs, urging ministers to remind clinicians of the need for sensitively and respectfully.
“The First Minister confirmed that she is aware this is not always happening at the moment, and that in some places, people have been shocked to learn that DNR notices are being applied on a blanket basis, without the proper involvement of patients and their families,” he said.
“We all understand that difficult decisions have to take place in care settings, about how people should be treated if the worst does happen.
“But those decisions must be based on respectful discussions with patients, giving them as much dignity and control as possible.”
The First Minister said no-one should feel under pressure to sign a “do not resuscitate” form.
She added that in some cases when concerns were raised professionals were trying to do the right thing, but “not necessarily in the right way.”
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