EVERY Brit should discuss death plans with relatives in case they get seriously ill with coronavirus, medics say.
Palliative care doctors are urging everyone to have a conversation with their loved ones about what they would want if they, or those close to them, became seriously unwell with Covid-19.
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It comes as the UK coronavirus death toll has today risen to 335 – after 54 more patients passed away in the past 24 hours in Britain.
Sixteen deaths were recorded in London alone, with those killed by the deadly bug aged between 47 and 105.
The 20 per cent jump from 281 fatalities included four deaths in each Wales and Scotland, while England recorded 46 tragic deaths.
Doctors are now recommending that people discuss all possible scenarios with those close to them amid the coronavirus outbreak – even those we are not “comfortable to talk about”.
While most people with Covid-19 will only get mild symptoms, around one out of every six will become seriously ill and be in a life-threatening condition, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are at most risk developing serious illness from Covid-19.
Adrienne Betteley, from Macmillan Cancer Support, is one of the people urging individuals to discuss death plans with relatives in case they get seriously ill with coronavirus.
She told the BBC: “It is never too early to have conversations about advance care plans.
“We need to encourage people to start talking about their wishes as soon as possible.”
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The NHS describes advance care planning is a process of discussion between you and those who provide care for you, on your views, preferences and wishes about your future care.
Dr Rachel Clarke, author and palliative care specialist, said it was even more important to discuss advance care plans at this uncertain time.
She said: “Why would anyone want to contemplate their own mortality right now when everyone could be threatened?
“But it is precisely that uncertainty that makes this the most important time for advanced care planning.
“Really advanced care planning amounts to nothing more complicated than having a think – with your nearest and dearest – about what would matter to you if you became so sick that you may die.
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“Are you the kind of person who would want to go to hospital, to intensive care or would you want to stay at home?”
Dr Clarke pointed out that if you don’t have these conversations and the worst does happen, you might not know exactly what your relative wanted.
According to reports, new guidelines are being produced for end of life care for Covid-19 patients.
Dr Iain Lawrie, president of The Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland, told the BBC that palliative care teams around the country were working together to create the guidance.
And he said the coronavirus crisis was highlighting the “lack of resourcing” for palliative care medicine.
He revealed that there were 60 unfilled consultant palliative care posts across the UK and he said the number of specialist nurses was a “worry”.
He said palliative care teams are currently looking at new ways of working as the crisis deepens – using telephone support, FaceTime and Skype.
They are also looking at alternative medicines and routes of administration of drugs that families could give, if patients decided they wanted to stay at home.
There are growing fears that Britain is on a similar trajectory to Italy – scene of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak – where the death toll passed 5,000 over the weekend.
The Italian government was one of a number of European countries to announce new or extended restrictions – with Germany banning public gatherings of more than two people not from the same household.
Mr Johnson warned the NHS could be “overwhelmed” in the same way as the Italian healthcare system has been, if the spread of the virus in the UK is not curbed.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned young people were at risk – saying nobody was safe.