THE family of a man due to have an operation at York Hospital were horrified to find he had a 'do not resuscitate' instruction in his notes - without their consent.

John Flatt, 82, was waiting to have a routine operation under general anaesthetic when a nurse checked with Mr Flatt and his wife whether the 'do not resuscitate' order in his file still stood.

The question came as a shock as the couple, from New Earswick, had not been consulted about the order and would never have agreed that Mr Flatt should not be resuscitated, said his wife Anne.

She has made a formal complaint and asked for a full investigation into the matter.

Mrs Flatt, 70, said: "The whole thing is very bizarre but it could have had terrible consequences. I'm absolutely disgusted with what's happened.

"John is not going out of my sight. He has age against him and he has a heart condition and if anything had happened they would just look at the form and leave him.

"What has happened is just shrouded in mystery. It's not a situation that should be just put on the back burner because of the potential consequences for other people."

Mr Flatt, who has prostate cancer and is in the early stages of dementia, was in hospital for a change of kidney stent when a staff nurse showed them a 'do not resuscitate' order, signed by a doctor when he was in hospital in November 2013.

The form indicates the matter was agreed with his "daughters" but Mr Flatt's step-daughter Susan Rogan said no such discussion had been held with her.

Mrs Flatt said: "My daughter went into shock. She is not aware of it.

"John is her step dad and she is heart broken. She said 'what would have happened if anything had happened to him? Would you ever have forgiven me?'"

In 2011 it was reported that York Hospital was one of eight trusts ordered by the Care Quality Commission to improve the way it recorded decisions on whether or not to resuscitate patients.

A subsequent inspection by the CQC in 2012, found the hospital was meeting standards and was filling in the forms and consulting families correctly.

Mrs Flatt said the staff nurse brought the surgeon into the ward to officially rescind the order before surgery.

Dr Alastair Turnbull, medical director for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were concerned to hear Mrs Flatt’s account of her husband’s treatment. Mrs Flatt has been in contact with us and we are continuing to work with her to provide answers to the issues she has raised regarding her husband’s time in hospital.

“We are unable to comment on individual cases, including those that are the subject of an ongoing complaint.

“The hospital has very clear guidance around good practice when making decisions about resuscitation. So fundamental is this that we audit regularly our clinical teams’ performance in this area. The guidance includes discussion with patients and their families. The form used in the Trust, and across the region, is partly a record of that discussion and reflects both the appropriateness of attempted resuscitation and the wishes of our patient and their loved ones.”