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Wye Valley NHS Trust v Mr B [2015] EWCOP 60

Judge: Mr Justice Peter Jackson
Citation: [2015] EWCOP 60

The issue for consideration in this case was whether the doctors treating Mr B, a 72 year old with a severely infected leg, had the authority to amputate his foot against his wishes in order to save his life. Without operation it was possible Mr B would die within a few days. Though as Mr B also had long standing mental health that deprived him of the capacity to make the decision for himself, the operation could only be performed lawfully if it was shown to be in his best interests.

The principles by which Mr Justice Peter Jackson had based his decision were those found in the Mental Capacity act 2005 and those established in the authority of Aintree University Hospitals NHS Trust v James [2014] AC 591. In a judgement somewhat sympathetic to Mr B, Peter Jackson J held that it would not be in Mr B’s best interests to perform and operation he so strongly opposed. Peter Jackson J went further to find that it would not be in Mr B’s best interests to ‘take away his little remaining independence and dignity in order to replace it with a future for which he has no appetite.

Peter Jackson J observed that there is a difference between fighting on someone’s behalf and merely fighting them, enforcing treatment would in this case fall within the latter. These were essentially the grounds by which Mr Justice Peter Jackson dismissed the application.

Comment

Whilst it is clear that concern for P’s best interests continue to be the basis for judgments concerning mental capacity, the decision here failed to give direction for the difference as illustrated in Peter Jackson J observations.