The British Medical Assocation have put forward proposals in response to legal test cases in which judges ruled that qualified NHS staff and officials no longer required a court’s permission to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration from those patients who are incapacitated and unable to communicate or feed themselves.
The Supreme Court justices’ decision in July supported the right of doctors to withdraw life-sustaining nutrition on their own authority, provided they had the explicit permission of the patient’s family or, where no family existed, medical proxy. If there is a disagreement and the decision is finely balanced, an application should still be made to the Court Of Protection.
The Court of Protection is the specialist court for all issues relating to people who lack capacity to make specific decisions. The court can make decisions and appoint deputies to make decisions about someone’s property and financial affairs or their healthcare and personal welfare.
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