FIFERS who have relatives in care homes should check if there is a DNACPR (Do Not Apply Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) notice in place and lodge an official complaint "if they find something wrong".

The call has come from Fife Conservatives who fear the forms are "being used wholesale" by some operators and that families are not being properly consulted.

Group leader and Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Dave Dempsey said: “No-one has a right to CPR. It’s a clinical decision whether to use it. However, everyone has a right to be consulted about a DNACPR notice.

“Finding one shouldn’t be a surprise. If the patient is fully with it, it’s enough that the clinician talks to the patient. However, many elderly have some degree of dementia, so their relatives should be part of the conversation too."

He continued: “When the patient’s living at home or with relatives, finding any paperwork is straightforward. However, I’ve heard of concerns that DNACPR forms are being used wholesale in care homes. I hope this is just a rumour but patient confidentiality makes it impossible to check.

“NHS Fife tells me that every care home resident has a care plan, which would contain any DNACPR form, and that relatives or next of kin are entitled to ask. So I’d encourage them to do just that and to lodge a formal complaint with NHS Fife if they find something wrong. The NHS has the right procedures in place and wants them to work. Official complaints can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

“Hopefully those are just the inevitable glitches but if they’re a symptom of something more major then it needs to be highlighted and sorted.”

Dr Helen Hellewell, associate medical director of Fife Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “We would encourage care home residents and their family members to discuss DNACPR with the care home manager and their doctors as part of a wider discussion about thinking ahead and understanding their health and future needs.

"We encourage residents and their loved ones to take time to understand their care plan, and if they have any questions or concerns about making choices about their future care they should raise these.

“For residents, their families and those caring for them a clear understanding of the options and choices around their care will benefit everyone and can help minimise anxiety and stress in the future.

"Staff are here to listen to residents, patients and their families, to help people make choices about their future care and provide support and guidance especially in difficult times.

"The care we provide all patients and residents across Fife is person-centred. Any clinical decisions are based entirely on the individual and their particular circumstances, in line with guidance by the Resuscitation Council UK and adhered to by all NHS boards in Scotland.”