Claim that patients 45 or older at Scottish hospital were classed as DNR is False

Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

The pressure the coronavirus pandemic has put on hospitals across the UK has led to fears that patients’ care might be compromised. 

One widely shared conspiracy involves the use of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders on Covid-19 patients. 

A contributor to the YouTube channel of UK Column, claimed a hospital in East Kilbride told staff at the start of the UK’s lockdown that anyone aged 45 or older was to be classed as DNR.

Claim that patients 45 or older at Scottish hospital were classed as DNR is False 5

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it False.


Do Not Resuscitate orders, also known as Do Not Attempt CPR (DNACPR), offer guidance to health professionals on the best course of action to take should a patient need resuscitation after a cardiac arrest, or if they die suddenly.

Sometimes giving CPR will not be in the person’s best interest. For example, when someone is dying from an “advanced and irreversible condition”, CPR may deprive them of a dignified death.

The DNACPR decision is made by a person, either alone, or in conjunction with a medical team. There are also cases where doctors have to make a decision on behalf of patients. According to the Resuscitation Council UK, this might occur when “a patient is so unwell from an underlying illness, that CPR will not prevent their death”. 

There has been criticism of the use of DNACPR among older patients, with reports of patients feeling pressured to sign. Charity Age UK said older people “have a right to make that decision without feeling pressurised.”

A small survey of nurses and care home managers found that around one in 10 had raised an issue over the use of DNRs in care homes. The use of “blanket” DNR decisions, which are not lawful, was one concern raised. 

The claim in the video is that a “hospital in East Kilbride” told senior staff to put DNR orders on any patient aged 45 or older. It has been viewed nearly 27,000 times on YouTube and attracted hundreds of likes and comments.

It was reposted from a 10 August YouTube video on UK Column which attracted 55,000 views. UK Column is a website and YouTube channel which promotes conspiracies and false information about the coronavirus pandemic. The claim was made by David Scott, a contributor to UK Column.

This likely refers to Hairmyres hospital in East Kilbride. There is no evidence that such blanket decisions have been made in hospitals anywhere in Scotland or the UK.

Dr John Keaney, NHS Lanarkshire acute divisional medical director, told The Ferret that no meeting took place. 

“We can categorically deny that this policy existed or such a meeting took place”, he said. 

“What has been reported is completely untrue.”

The Scottish Government has also denied that there has been any change to the use of DNACPR forms. 

Ferret Fact Service: False

The claim that Hairmyres hospital told staff at the start of the UK Covid-19 lockdown to treat every patient 45 or older as DNR is without evidence. It has been directly denied by NHS Lanarkshire, and is against NHS Scotland guidance.

This claim is false

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles.

All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here.

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