Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Liverpool Care Pathway - It's For You To Decide, None Other

"I want to guarantee that you are there supporting my continued life and its value. The last thing I want is for you to give up on me..."

Thus spoke Lady Jane Campbell in the House.

If the alternative is death, there is no alternative

In recent days, Solicitors for May James took her case to be heard and deliberated upon in the High Court in London. The case is to determine when and if it is lawful to withold or withdraw medical treatment.

May's husband, David, had his life taken at Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool. It was so determined in his case, that it was better that he was dead.

They brought the Moors killer, Brady, back to life. David James, they determined to put to death...

David's family continue to stand by him. His memory is not so easily swept into oblivion.

David's son, Paul, has posted this on Facebook -

Could everyone please share this statement from our solicitors as the outcome of our hearing in The Supreme Court will affect everybody in the country. Thanks.  

When is it lawful to withhold medical treatment?

July 25, 2013

In cases where a person lacks legal capacity to make their own decisions about their medical treatment, such decisions should be made in that person’s best interests. This includes decisions about withholding or withdrawing treatment.

The basis on which these decisions should be taken, the interpretation of futility and the persons wishes and feelings, are some of the issues being considered by the Supreme Court in a groundbreaking case heard today.

Mrs Alice May James, a client of QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter, is seeking to clarify an important question. When is it in a patient’s best interests to withhold medical treatment when he or she is critically ill, but who nevertheless has a measureable quality of life from which he or she gains pleasure? The patient in question was her husband of fifty years who sadly died at the end of last year. The hospital’s view was that further treatment was futile, but Mrs James and her children disagreed. Her husband, although ill, was to some extent conscious and the family believed he was still getting enjoyment from contact with his wife and close family.

The hospital sought a declaration from the Court that it was in Mr James’ best interests for further treatment to be withheld in the event of a clinical deterioration, on the basis that such treatment would be ‘futile’ and ‘overly burdensome’. The family argued strongly that treatment should be continued. The Court found for the family and refused to endorse the withholding of further treatment. This was quickly challenged in the Appeal Court where the Judges took an alternative view. Mr James sadly died shortly after the decision.

Mrs James continued to argue that this case is very different from other cases, such as the Bland case, where the patient was in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband, although ill, was still aware of their presence and able to communicate with his wife, for example by giving her a kiss. As such continuing treatment was not futile. She obtained permission to appeal to the highest court in the land for a ruling on this very important point of legal principle.

It is now for the Supreme Court to delve into the legal situation and provide guidance on how similar best interests decisions should be taken in the future. The judgment is not expected for some time. However, when it is delivered, each one of us has the potential to be deeply affected by the outcome of this important case.

Susan Flynn and Corine Hims from our Church Street office have handled the case and Ian Wise QC and Stephen Broach from Doughty Street Chambers represented Mrs James in the court process.

Once upon a time, doctors would go that extra mile to preserve life. That is the whole principle of First Aid and why First Aiders become First Aiders: to rush in to the rescue, to be there and be able to attend to a dire need. Life and the preservation of life was always first and foremost in mind. That has all been turned on its head.

A bad decision has been left to stand that did not take account of the facts and history of Mr. James' suffering at the hands of those who first placed Mr. James in the dire jeopardy that delivered him to Death's door.

How did he arrive there? Mr. James walked into Fazakerley Hospital; he was not carried in!

That is the really worrying thing, that such 'best interests' decisions may be used by physicians and medical practitioners to bury their misdemeanours.

Fazakerley Hospital... Fazakerley Hospital... Fazakerley Hospital...

Mrs. James is now permitted to say to the world, openly and freely, the name of the hospital that took her family to court to permit them to put Mr. James down by denial of treatment! So what was there to hide that they requested this instruction be made?

We are set on a course that will lead us into perilous and treacherous waters. Such matters are not for courts to decide. A brave lady, uncowed and resilient, stands firm in her good fight for justice.

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