Court approves withdrawal of life support to patient in a minimally conscious state

Nick Palmer4

By Nick Palmer

In a recent case, the Court of Protection has made an Order authorising the withdrawal of life support from a minimally conscious patient. The patient’s daughter argued that continuing life sustaining treatment through a percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy tube was not in her mother’s best interests. Her mother lacked the capacity to take part in the court proceedings and there was no direct evidence as to what she wanted for herself. She had suffered from multiple sclerosis for 23 years and had not made an advance decision setting out her wishes, whether for or against life sustaining treatment.

However, although the Official Solicitor (representing the patient) initially opposed the daughter’s application, he was convinced by the family’s evidence (given with complete candour according to the judge) and changed his position.

The judge concluded that ‘respect for the patient’s dignity and human freedom overwhelms further prolongation of life’.

Nick Palmer is a solicitor in the Private Client team at Barker Gotelee.

Solicitors Ipswich Suffolk – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email