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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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MEDICAL TREATMENT: NHS Trust v D and D [2005] EWHC 2439 (Fam)
Date:29 NOV 2005

(Family Division; Coleridge J; 10 November 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 638

The local authority asked the court to declare that it is not in the patient's interests to take certain invasive steps to prolong the patient's life. The patient suffers from a terminal neurological condition. The family opposed the declarations suggested by the local authority and claimed that the patient had made meaningful movements. Coleridge J considered the evidence of the five experts and family members and found that the patient's condition is an irreversible vegetative state condition. The principles of law to be applied are conveniently set out in Hedley J's judgment in Portsmouth NHS Trust v Wyatt [2004] EWHC 2247 (Fam), [2005] 1 FLR 21. Coleridge J said it was his task to balance the benefits or disbenefits, advantages or disadvantages to the patient in withholding certain types of life preserving intervention. The focus must be on the patient's best interests not the family's best interests. In the instant case the patient's best interests demand that the patient should not be subjected to more than the minimum necessary to allow the patient to die peacefully and with dignity.