On appeal from: [2017] EWHC 2866 (QB).

The case concerned a patient who was in a vegetative state, where doctors and family agreed that continued feeding was not in the patient’s best interests. The Official Solicitor appealed a decision of the High Court, seeking an order that it was mandatory to seek the court’s approval for the withdrawal of such treatment.

Held: it was not established that common law or the ECHR, in combination or separately, give rise to the mandatory requirement for a court to hear an application for clinically assisted feeding to be withdrawn. The fundamental question facing a doctor, or a court, considering treatment of a patient who is not able to make his or her own decision is not whether it is lawful to withdraw or withhold treatment, but whether it is lawful to give it. It is lawful to give treatment only if it is in the patient’s best interests.

If it transpires that the way forward is finely balanced, there is a difference of medical opinion, or a lack of agreement from persons with an interest in the patient’s welfare, a court application can and should be made.

For judgment, please download: [2018] UKSC 46
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (26 Feb 2018 morning session) (26 Feb 2018 afternoon session) (27 Feb 2018 morning session)