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Daughter says she’s been ‘robbed’ of dad, 81, who was marked DNR

Christabel Allen says her father, William, had pleaded to be discharged from hospital before his condition rapidly deteriorated (Picture Christabel Allen)

The daughter of a great-grandfather has said her family has been ‘robbed’ after he was marked do not resuscitate in hospital without her consent.

Christabel Allen, 55, from north London, says she was not consulted over the decision and that her father, William Abraham Allen, 81, had begged to be discharged before his death.

Mr Allen, a retired transport worker who lived an active, independent life, was admitted to North Middlesex University Hospital on April 3, 2020 and died seven days later.

Ms Allen, a school worker, told Metro.co.uk that she had not been consulted about the DNR decision – which means cardiopulmonary resuscitation will not be attempted – before she watched the former signalman take his last breaths in a Skype call.

She spoke after a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that DNR orders had been used without consent for 508 patients during the pandemic, although campaigners supporting her case against the governing Trust say the true number could be at least 800.

The Care Campaign for the Vulnerable (CCFTV) says that families have complained that Covid visiting restrictions meant many loved ones were not physically present when the decision were taken and patients’ health worsened as a result of the loss of contact.

North Middlesex University Hospital Trust said today that Mr Allen’s care plan ‘was discussed with him upon arrival at hospital’ and it has been in ‘regular contact’ with his family.

William Allen was a great-grandfather who was otherwise fit and healthy before his health rapidly deteriorated (Picture Christabel Allen)

Mr Allen had been taking medication for a urine infection in the days before he was admitted and had diabetes, his daughter said.

An ambulance was called to his house in Edmonton after a friend raised concerns about his health but she was not allowed to accompany him to hospital due to Covid precautions.

Ms Allen says she was told by paramedics over the phone that he had tachycardia, a condition where the heart beats faster than normal.

The mother-of-five, from Muswell Hill, said: ‘As soon as he got into hospital he was pleading with me to take him home. The last time I spoke to him was eleven o’clock at night and he said he couldn’t stay and needed to leave.

‘His exact words were, “it’s a dungeon”. I said I would see what I could do and I’d try to get him the next day. He said “goodbye daughter” and I said “goodnight dad”.’

Ms Allen says that she was told that her dad had suffered a fall two days after he was admitted and she was also informed by phone that he had been placed under the DNR order.

‘I was beside myself,’ she said.

‘I told them to take it off and there was a kerfuffle on the phone and I said why didn’t they ask me, his next of kin.

‘She went away and half an hour later she phoned back and said the request to remove the DNR had been refused by a consultant because my dad is 81 with underlying health issues and had now been diagnosed with Covid.

‘I usually went with daddy to all of his appointments, I saw him every day, but I didn’t get to speak to him about any of this.

‘In the medical notes it said William wanted to speak with his daughter before any decision was made.

‘They’ve said unless I have power of attorney, I have no say. I thought next of kin means everything, but apparently it means nothing.

‘The notes also say his daughter pleaded for a video call. Pleaded? In fact I grovelled like a hungry child begging for bread.’

‘He was waiting for me to take him home’

Mr Allen who was also diagnosed with a chest infection and was given intravenous drugs, died on April 10, 2020, with the cause of death attributed to Covid. His daughter watched him slip away in the Skype call.

She has submitted a seven-page complaint to the Trust but says she has had no answers almost a year on and feels she deserves a face-to-face meeting about her case.

‘They offered me a virtual meeting but I want a real meeting, my dad didn’t live in the virtual world, he was a real man,’ Ms Allen said.

‘I don’t want to cry over a ten-page letter, my dad always told me to do things right, it’s what he would have expected me to do.’

Mr Allen, who lived in Edmonton for 47 years, also leaves behind three siblings, eight children, 25 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren, including a four-month-old who has never met him.

After retiring as a supervisor for the former London Regional Transport, he shared one of his two houses in Edmonton with overseas students and was known for his generosity to those with less than him.

William Allen and his daughter Christabel would usually go together to all of his medical checks and appointments (Picture Christabel Allen)

‘He was running two houses by himself,’ Ms Allen said.

‘He would walk a mile to his sister’s house every Monday and while he was in hospital he said he wanted to go home because he’d just planted his garden out. He was deprived of food on palliative care, he wanted a discussion with me but the decision was taken for him.

‘I haven’t slept properly since the day he left us.

‘I feel like we’ve been robbed and what makes it worse is that he was waiting for me to take him home.’

The CQC delivered its report after allegations that under Covid measures blanket DNR orders had been used on vulnerable patients due to their age or disabilities.

‘No visiting rights’

Jayne Connery, director of the CCFTV, said: ‘Sadly, right at the start of this pandemic, our organisation was contacted by grieving families reporting DNRs being placed on elderly loved ones without being consulted.

‘It was also reported to us that many loved ones felt “pressured” in agreeing to have a DNR put in place.

‘Throughout this distressing time families had no visiting rights not just in care homes but hospitals too and we were told this brought a decline in a loved ones’ physical health once they were admitted.’

Signage outside the North Middlesex Hospital, Edmunton, London. UK (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

North Middlesex Hospital in north London has said it discussed William Allen’s care plan with him when he was admitted (Picture: In Pictures Ltd/Corbis via Getty)

According to the CQC, DNR decisions should always be made in consultation with the patient or, if they are unable to communicate their wishes, family members or other appropriate individuals.

A North Middlesex spokesperson said: ‘All decisions around care and access to treatment, including end of life care, are made on an individual basis and with clinicians, in consultation with the patient or their family, where appropriate.

‘Mr Allen’s care plan was discussed with him upon arrival at hospital and we have been in regular contact with Mr Allen’s family, have listened to their concerns and continue to liaise with them as our investigations continue, and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to them during this difficult time.’

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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