End of Life Decisions
31st Aug 2018
It’s been recently reported the Supreme Court has ruled that permission from the Court will no longer be needed to withdraw treatment from patients who are in a permanent vegetative state.
As long as families and doctors are in complete agreement, medical staff will now be able to remove feeding tubes without applying to the Court of Protection.
Relatives who have had to endure the court process in the past said the ruling would really help families dealing during an extremely tragic time.
Previously the Court of Protection has had to provide rulings on individual cases, but the process can take many months or even years, and it costs health authorities about £50,000 in legal fees to lodge an appeal.
There is estimated to be 1,500 new cases each year in England and Wales which would be affected, with about 3,000 patients alive at any one time in this condition.
If relatives agreed and it was found to be in the best interests of a patient, then doctors have been able to withdraw some forms of treatment from a patient in a minimally conscious or vegetative state.
However the withdrawing of food and water has been handled differently. Since the case of Hillsborough survivor Anthony Bland in 1993, it has been regarded as a matter of practice that doctors must seek the approval of a court, even when they and relatives agree withdrawal would be in the best interests of the patient.
When a family is faced with such a sad, traumatic and emotional scenario it is crucial that they have a full understanding of what their relative wants, so planning for later life is vital. Granting a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can help give a family control over decisions regarding your care or health needs, should you become unable to do so, it also gives them the ability to carry out your wishes should the need arise.
The knowledgeable team of experts in our Private Client team have a wide range of experience in supporting and advising families when they are planning for the future. If you would like to discuss how we can help you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01603 675631.