Health chiefs at Bradford hospitals are set to change guidelines for doctors on saving patients' lives.

And the move was today backed by the relatives of a 70-year-old man who say hospital staff stood by and did not resuscitate him after he stopped breathing.

Raymond Shaw, who had been suffering from a lung disorder, died in November 1998 in Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Medics are to be given new guidelines expressing the importance of talking to patients and relatives of the very ill - in case they should require resuscitation - and that relatives should be given full information on the reasons why their loved ones will not be saved.

Currently, they follow British Medical Association guidelines which state decisions should be based on the express wishes of the patient as well as clinical need.

The move follows the case of Mr Shaw whose family say nothing was done to bring him back to life.

The Shaw family from Bradford say they will never recover from the trauma of seeing the 70-year-old die in hospital.

A former millworker, Mr Shaw was admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary with a partially collapsed lung and breathing difficulties in November 1998.

Diagnosed with a progressive lung disorder a year earlier, his family say they were told his condition was not immediately life-threatening and only found out his medical notes had been marked with code 333 - the number for "do not resuscitate" - after complaints to senior medical staff.

His daughters Marilyn and Jackie from Eccleshill were called to Mr Shaw's bedside with their mother Doris, now 80, after four days of his treatment at BRI. They were talking to a senior doctor about their father's condition when he stopped breathing.

"The bag on his oxygen machine stopped inflating," said Marilyn. "We were all waiting for that bag to re-inflate and for him to take another breath but he didn't. All the time, the doctor was still standing at the end of the bed. He said: 'It does this some times', so we were all waiting for him to start breathing again.

"Suddenly the nurse pushed past as the buzzer had gone off and took his pulse."

Only minutes before his death, the doctor had been talking about giving him morphine when he got back home, she said.

"We were just in shock," said Jackie. "Mum was shaking him and rubbing his chest. I didn't believe he was dead."

An official letter of apology from the hospital explained the decision not to resuscitate had been taken because Mr Shaw was approaching the "terminal phase of his life".

But Marilyn has now urged patients and families to be more aware of decisions made behind their backs. She says the family would not have wished to be by their father's side when he died.

"I relive that moment over and over and hear him gasp and gasp and see the doctor's face just looking at him.Where there's life, there's hope," she said. "Nobody should be allowed to take that action."

A spokesperson for Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust said he could not comment on individual cases because of patient confidentiality. "However, we recognise the importance of good communications and the need for the family to be thoroughly informed on the current clinical situation," he said. "We regret the rare occasions when the next-of-kin feel that this has not happened as well as it should have done."

The Bradford branch of Age Concern is now urging other patients and families to come forward if they have experienced similar events.

"We would like to hear about it so we can look at the situation in Bradford.

"Age alone should never be a factor for 'do not resuscitate' and we will shout that as long as possible."


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