2013 01 Health Care

Friday 1 February 2013

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In the matter of an application by the Family Planning Association of Northern Ireland for Judicial Review [2013] NIQB 1 (Treacy J): On granting the application where namely the Family Planning Association of Northern Ireland applied for an order that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, should disclose certain documents, the court held that an action in which it was alleged that there had been an ongoing failure by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to promulgate guidance on pregnancy termination, it was appropriate to require the Department to disclose documents, such as briefing papers and ministerial submissions, which had been referred to in, but not exhibited to, its affidavit. (click here for transcript).

R (on the application of David Treacy) v (1) Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, (2) Secretary of State for Health and EHRC [2012] EWHC 3860 (Admin) (Nicola Davies J): On refusing an application for judicial review the Court declined to hold a substantive hearing to investigate the 1st Defendant hospital's non-resuscitation policy. The Court stated that It was particularly important, where ethical questions were concerned, that it did not enunciate general propositions of principle outside of the particular factual context in which the issues arose. Further that Courts should be reluctant to address ethical questions unless driven to do so by the need to resolve a practical problem. (click here for transcript).

An NHS Trust v (1) DJ (by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) (2) MJ (3) JJ [2012] EWHC 3524 (COP) (Peter Jackson J). On application by the NHS trust for a declaration that it would be lawful and in the in best interest to withhold further treatment the Court of Protection refused to make a declaration that it would be in the best interests of a patient in a minimally conscious state for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, invasive support for dangerously low blood pressure and renal replacement therapy to be withheld in the event of a deterioration in his condition. The law contained a strong presumption that all steps would be taken to preserve life unless the circumstances were exceptional. The approach to assessing best interests set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice para.5.31 was an accurate statement, and one central question in the overall assessment was whether J's case was one of the few cases in which treatment was futile or overly burdensome to the patient, or where there was no prospect of recovery (see paras 69-74 of judgment). (click here for transcript).

The NHS Trust v AW [2013] EWHC 78 (COP) (Peter Jackson J): This application concerned AW, a 57-year-old woman who is in a permanent vegetative state. It is made by the NHS Trust responsible for her care, which seeks a declaration that it is lawful and in her best interests to withdraw active medical treatment, including specifically artificial nutrition and hydration, albeit that this will lead to AW's death. The application is supported by AW's family, by all the medical staff who look after her, by the evidence of the expert witnesses who have reported, and by the Official Solicitor on behalf of AW herself. The court declared AW lacks capacity to litigate in these proceedings or to make decisions about the medical treatment she should receive, including as to the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and other life-sustaining treatment; It is lawful and in AWs best interests for life-sustaining treatment in the form of artificial nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn; and It is in AW's best interests to receive such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that she retains the greatest dignity until her life ends. (click here for transcript).

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