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An NHS Trust and others v Y (by his litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) and another (2018) UKSC 46

The United Kingdom Supreme Court has ruled that doctors may withdraw treatment from patients in a persistent vegetative state without seeking legal permission.  Provided that both the medical team and the patient’s relatives are agreed that the withdrawal is in the patient’s best interests, doctors will be able to remove feeding tubes without applying to the Court of Protection.
 
The case was brought to the Supreme Court after a man in his 50s (known as Mr Y) suffered a heart attack, resulting in severe brain damage.  He was unresponsive and there was no chance of recovery.  His family and his doctors agreed that it would be in his best interests to withdraw his feeding tube.  The NHS trust asked the High Court to declare that it was not necessary to apply to the Court of Protection for legal permission to withdraw treatment.  The High Court judge agreed, but the official solicitor (who represents people who lack capacity) appealed on behalf of Mr Y and the matter was referred to the Supreme Court.
 
The Supreme Court held that neither the United Kingdom common law nor the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) required an application to the Court to decide upon the best interests of patients in cases such as Mr Y’s.
 
It is thought the ruling could impact thousands of families whose loved ones are in a permanent vegetative state.
 
Read RightsInfo’s article here.  Commentary from Life Law NI Blog can be found here.

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Health