Nageena Khalique, instructed by the Official solicitor, represented the Protected Party (“N”) in United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust v N (by her litigation friend the Official Solicitor) [2014] EWCOP 16.  

N is a woman in her early fifties who suffered a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, severe brain damage and remains in a minimally conscious state. She lacks capacity to make decisions as to her medical treatment which included the insertion of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. She was physically resistant to all efforts to re-establish a method of providing her with nutrition.

The court was invited to start on the basis that there is a strong presumption in favour of the preservation of life. Pauffley J then reviewed the legal test for best interests and considered all the evidence regarding N including her previously known wishes and feelings and those of her family. The Court made the declaration that it was in N’s best interests not to continue with life sustaining treatment. The critical decision was whether it is in N’s best interests to continue invasive, risk laden, medical care as would be involved in a further attempt at artificial feeding.

It was declared that it is lawful and in N’s best interests for the clinicians (a) not to make any further attempt to secure a means of providing artificial nutrition; (b) to withdraw the provision of intravenous fluids and dextrose; and (c) to provide such palliative care and related treatment (including pain relief) as considered appropriate to ensure N suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity until such time as her life comes to an end.

The case report can be found by clicking here.

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