Families get right to say goodbye to dying loved ones after 13-year-old’s death made Health Secretary weep

Close relatives will be able to say goodbye to their loved ones as they die from coronavirus, the Health Secretary has said, as he stopped blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ agreements being put in place for the elderly and vulnerable.

Wednesday, 15th April 2020, 9:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th April 2020, 9:38 pm

Matt Hancock has announced a package of measures aimed at combating the spread of coronavirus in care homes following huge criticism of the government's response to the growing crisis.

Those running care homes have accused the government of forgetting staff and the elderly, citing inadequate stocks of personal protective equipment alongside a lack of testing.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock - Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

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Mr Hancock said ‘wherever possible’ people will be given the ‘chance to say goodbye’ to loved ones dying with Covid-19, after reports of the elderly dying alone in care homes and some hospitals banning all visitors.

He said ‘wanting to be with someone you love at the end of their life is one of the deepest human instincts’, and that as a father himself he wept at reports of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton, south London, dying without a parent at his bedside.

Relatives will be allowed to say goodbye to loved ones dying of coronavirus

“I'm pleased to say that working with Public Health England, the care sector and many others, we are introducing new procedures so we can limit the risk of infection while wherever possible giving people's closest loved ones the chance to say goodbye,” he said.

During the daily press briefing, Mr Hancock said the government was making it ‘crystal clear’ that it was unacceptable for advanced care plans - including do not resuscitate orders - to be applied in a blanket fashion to any group of people.

“This must always be a personalised process, as it always has been,” he said.

The Cabinet minister denied suggestions the lives of younger people had been prioritised at the expense of those in care homes and that people had died unnecessarily.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the coronavirus death toll may rise later this week but he believes the UK is ‘probably’ reaching the peak of the outbreak.