The Court’s Role in the Withdrawal of Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration
From Elisabeth Barlow
About the Presentation
The presentation by Prof Simon Halliday (University of York) reassessed the court’s role in the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from patients in the permanent vegetative state in England and Wales, focusing on cases where health care teams and families agree that such in the patient’s best interest. As well as including a doctrinal analysis, the reassessment drew on empirical data from the families of patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness, on economic data about the costs of the declaratory relief process to the NHS, and on comparative legal data about the comparable procedural requirements in other jurisdictions. He showed that, following the decision in the Bland case, the role of the Court of Protection is now restricted to the direct supervision of the PVS diagnosis as a matter of proof. He argued that this is an inappropriate role for the court, and one that sits in some tension with the best interests of patients. The blanket requirement of declaratory relief for all cases is economically expensive for the NHS and thus deprives other NHS patients from health care. He demonstrated that many of the ancillary benefits currently offered by declaratory relief could be achieved by other means. Ultimately, he suggested that reform to the declaratory relief requirement is called for.
About the Speaker
Simon Halliday is Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of York. He is a member of the Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre, a multi-disciplinary research group based in various UK institutions. Simon is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Law School of Edinburgh University.