Re C (Withdrawal of Treatment)

Judge: Ryder J.

Citation: [2010] EWHC 3448

Summary: This case concerned the best interests of a 21 year old man who had been seriously injured in a car accident when he was 16 years old. There was a consensus of medical opinion that C was in a persistent vegetative state. C’s family, including his twin brother, his treating consultant, his general practitioner and two independent experts agreed that it was in C’s best interests for his artificial nutrition and hydration to be withheld because it was futile. The staff who cared for C at the unit where he was placed, however, did not support the application. They considered that he had shown some behaviours that suggested some level of awareness. The medical evidence was that these behaviours were non-cognitive reflexive behaviours.

The court considered the established approach to cases involving patients in PVS and concluded that C’s situation was indistinguishable from that of Anthony Bland in Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789. It was in his best interests for ANH to be withheld, and C would be moved to a new unit for this to take place, given the staff at his current placement did not agree to the withdrawal of ANH. The court confirmed that no issue under Article 2 or Article 3 ECHR arose.

Comment: This decision is a clear and comprehensive exposition of the factors the court will take into account in a PVS case and demonstrates that the advent of the MCA 2005 has not altered the approach to be taken.

CategoryBest interests - Medical treatment Date


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