2012 12 Health Care

Tuesday 1 January 2013

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R (on the application of Tony Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice & (1) Director of Public Prosecutions (2) Jane Nicklinson (Interested Parties) : R (on the application of AM) v (1) Director of Public of Public Prosecutions [2012] EWHC 2381 (Admin) (Toulson LJ, Royce J, Macur J): The Claimants applied for judicial review and sought declarations relating to issues of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. The Claimant’s suffered from catastrophic physical disabilities but they were mentally capable but wished to end their own lives but their condition made them incapable of ending their own lives. The second claimant would be capable of physically assisted suicide, but his wife was unwilling to assist him. The first claimant’s condition meant he was unable to commit assisted suicide and the only way he could end his life was by way of voluntary euthanasia. In refusing the applications the court held that it was for Parliament to decide whether to change the law on voluntary euthanasia and the court could not alter the common law to create a defence to murder by way of necessity in the case of voluntary euthanasia. Further given that the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights had ruled previously that a blanket ban on assisted suicide was not incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights the same considerations had to apply to voluntary euthanasia. (Click here for the judgment).

R(on the application of Save our Surgery Ltd) v Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NHS Foundation Trust (2012) (Judge Mackie QC): The Claimant applied to stay its application for judicial review of a decision of the Respondent committee to close the paediatric cardiac surgical unit at a hospital in Leeds, and for a protective costs order. The applicant challenged the lawfulness of the closure decision, in particular the scoring used to decide which of several units around the country should close and argued on the stay that the review by the panel and the subsequent decision by the secretary of state might make the judicial review unnecessary. The court held the judicial review should progress as soon as possible because of the obvious consequences of a challenge to an administrative decision. The case against a stay was very much stronger than the case in favour of a stay. Further that the making of a restrictive costs order was not ruled out, but the court required much more information about costs before making a decision. (Extempore judgment)

NHS Trust v Baby X & others [2012] EWHC 2188 (Fam) (Hedley J): The appellant NHS trust sought a declaration that it would be lawful to remove a 13-month-old baby from a ventilator and to give him only palliative care. The baby was a patient in a hospital run by the NHS trust. He had suffered a catastrophic accident resulting in severe and irreversible brain damage. He was unconscious, exhibited no spontaneous movement, was incapable of breathing on his own thereby being permanently ventilated and was fed by a nasal gastric tube. Were the baby to be removed from ventilation, his life expectancy would be short. The medical team treating him had come to the view that it was no longer in his best interests for him to remain on artificial ventilation: no improvement was to be expected and treatment had become futile. His parents disagreed. The parent’s believed that signs of improvement were discernible and wanted him to be given every chance to improve. Upon an application to the court the court granted a declaration to the effect that it would be lawful for a medical team treating a severely brain-damaged baby to remove him from a ventilator, against his parents' wishes, and give him only palliative care. The medical evidence was to the effect that treatment was persistent, intense and invasive and served no purpose in terms of improving his condition. (Click here for the judgment).

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