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Drilldown: Cases

Not many cases (246 of them) have been added to the database so far. To see the full list of cases (2073) go to the Mental health case law page.

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Cases > Subject : Criminal law capacity cases or ECHR deprivation of liberty cases or Medical treatment cases & Judges : Hale or Hayden

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Page name Sentence Summary
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board v P (2020) EWCOP 8

Dental treatment - delay

"It might seem, from the above account, that some dental assessment was required quickly and now as long ago as November or early December 2019. Plainly, it was. But the application was only made by the Health Board on 20th February 2020. The proposed inspection and/or treatment is not to take place until early March. For anybody who has had toothache, even delay between now and then looks like an eternity. But this young man, it seems, has been suffering, and significantly so, for nearly five months. This is little short of an outrage. It is indefensible. ... An additional complication arose in November when P was taken to the local A&E by his parents with an obvious bruise to his forehead. They believed that his behaviour was so markedly changed that they feared he had some sort of concussion and may have fractured his skull. It is, to my mind, self-evident that there was an urgent medical emergency that should have been investigated within hours or days, but in fact there has, as yet, been no CT scan at all. ... It is, sadly, yet again, a situation in which there has been a fundamental failure to communicate effectively by those responsible for P's care. This message has now been the conclusion of so many reviews, including serious case reviews, that it has become almost trite. There is no point identifying lessons to be learned if they are not, in fact, learned."

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust v R (2020) EWCOP 4

Contingent/anticipatory declarations - MCA/inherent jurisdiction - Caesarean section

R had capacity to make decisions as to her ante-natal and obstetric care but there was a risk that she would lose capacity during labour and refuse a Caesarean section. (1) MCA 2005 s16 (Powers to make decisions and appoint deputies: general) applies only to those who currently lack capacity. (2) MCA 2005 s15 (Power to make declarations) is not so limited and so can authorise contingent declarations. (3) Deprivation of liberty cannot be authorised by s15 but the inherent jurisdiction may be utilised to fill that lacuna which would otherwise render the s15 power nugatory.

NHS Cumbria CCG v Rushton (2018) EWCOP 41

Withdrawal of CANH; advance decision

"This is an application regarding the proposed withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration in respect of Mrs Jillian Rushton, who is now 85 years of age. Since sustaining a traumatic head injury in December 2015, Mrs Rushton has suffered from a prolonged period of disorder of consciousness. Insofar as a label is relevant, the consensus of medical opinion, in respect of which there is no dissent at all, is that she is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). In their recent guidance, ‘Clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) and adults who lack the capacity to consent’, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association have noted that the importance of obtaining a precise and definitive diagnosis has reduced. It is recognised by the Courts and clinicians that drawing a firm distinction between vegetative state and minimally conscious state is frequently both artificial and unnecessary. In practice, when assessing best interests, information about the patient’s current condition and prognosis for functional recovery and the level of confidence with which these can be evaluated is invariably of greater importance than a precise diagnosis. ... It perhaps requires to be said, though in my view it should be regarded as axiomatic, that the medical profession must give these advanced decisions the utmost care, attention and scrutiny. I am confident the profession does but I regret to say that I do not think sufficient care and scrutiny took place here. The lesson is an obvious one and needs no amplification. Where advanced decisions have been drawn up and placed with GP records there is an onerous burden on the GP to ensure, wherever possible, that they are made available to clinicians in hospital. By this I mean a copy of the decision should be made available and placed within the hospital records with the objective that the document should follow the patient. It need hardly be said that it will rarely, if ever, be sufficient to summarise an advance decision in a telephone conversation. ... The family have ... made it clear to me that she would not have regarded her present situation as tolerable. Whilst I have no doubt that she would understand the commitment of her son, Tim and his profound resistance to letting her go, I have equally no doubt that she would want to be let go and I have no hesitation in concluding that it is my responsibility to respect this."

NHS Trust v Y (2018) UKSC 46

Court order not always necessary for withdrawal of CANH

"The question that arises in this appeal is whether a court order must always be obtained before clinically assisted nutrition and hydration, which is keeping alive a person with a prolonged disorder of consciousness, can be withdrawn, or whether, in some circumstances, this can occur without court involvement. ... In conclusion, having looked at the issue in its wider context as well as from a narrower legal perspective, I do not consider that it has been established that the common law or the ECHR, in combination or separately, give rise to the mandatory requirement, for which the Official Solicitor contends, to involve the court to decide upon the best interests of every patient with a prolonged disorder of consciousness before CANH can be withdrawn. If the provisions of the MCA 2005 are followed and the relevant guidance observed, and if there is agreement upon what is in the best interests of the patient, the patient may be treated in accordance with that agreement without application to the court. I would therefore dismiss the appeal. In so doing, however, I would emphasise that, although application to court is not necessary in every case, there will undoubtedly be cases in which an application will be required (or desirable) because of the particular circumstances that appertain, and there should be no reticence about involving the court in such cases."

Practice Guidance (Court of Protection: Serious Medical Treatment) (2020) EWCOP 2

Serious medical treatment guidance

"This practice guidance sets out the procedure to be followed where a decision relating to medical treatment arises and where thought requires to be given to bringing an application before the Court of Protection. The procedure is currently being reviewed within the revised MCA Code. That will, in due course, be subject to public consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny. This guidance is intended to operate until such time as it is superseded by the revised Code."

QJ v A Local Authority (2020) EWCOP 3

Finely-balanced treatment decision

(1) This s21A appeal was adjourned for medical evidence in relation to whether QJ had capacity (a) to decide on whether to receive nutrition and hydration either orally or artificially; (b) to decide more generally on medical treatment; and (c) to decide on admission to hospital. (2) On the day of the hearing QJ had for the first time indicated a willingness to be put on a drip. Even if QJ were now found to have capacity, the case should still come back before the court because: (a) it may very well be a "finely balaced" decision (and so within Practice Guidance (Court of Protection: Serious Medical Treatment) [2020] EWCOP 2); and, in any event, (b) where there is already an application in relation to the central issue the matter should only be concluded within court proceedings and not left to clinical decisions.

QJ v A Local Authority (2020) EWCOP 7

Capacity and nutrition/hydration

QJ had capacity to decide about nutrition and hydration despite his reluctance to answer certain questions. He was in agreement with the care plan, which included (a) Fortisip; (b) weighing; (c) discharge to a care home; (d) no readmission to hospital if he refuses to accept food or water.

R v C (2009) UKHL 42

Sexual consent

For the purposes of s30 Sexual Offences Act 2003: (1) lack of capacity to choose can be person or situation specific; (2) an irrational fear arising from mental disorder that prevents the exercise of choice could amount to a lack of capacity to choose; (3) inability to communicate could be as a result of a mental or physical disorder.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v H (2020) EWCOP 5

Medical treatment delay

Noting that the delay in bringing the case to court "may mean that a life is lost that could well have been saved", the judge authorised surgical excision under general anaesthetic of a squamous cell carcinoma on Mrs H's left cheek.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v H (2020) EWCOP 6

Medical treatment

In the previous judgment the court had authorised surgical excision of a squamous cell carcinoma on Mrs H's left cheek. By the surgery date its further growth rendered it inoperable. Other treatments, including electro-chemo therapy and paliative radiotherapy under general anaesthetic were under consideration, with a view to putting together a care plan for Mrs H's needs for the remainder of her life. The court would review the care plan because (a) the history of the case required that it be monitored, and (b) Mrs H's daughter had requested this.

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