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We are all aware of the damaging after effects that can be caused by contracting Covid-19. In the worst case scenario, a person may lose function of vital organs and in some cases, be left with brain damage and/or paralysis.
In the first case of its kind heard in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Hayden had to consider whether a women (‘P’), in her 50s, should continue on life-support treatment or whether she should be ‘allowed to die’ after Covid-19 caused her to suffer severe cognitive impairment and paralysis from the neck down.
Specialists argued that P’s future would be one of pain and discomfort and that there was nothing they could do to make any aspect of her condition better. However, family counter-argued that she would not want to end her life in this way and would be tantamount to suicide.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (S 4(6)) requires those acting or deciding in a person’s best interests to consider, amongst other matters ‘the person’s past and present wishes and feelings (and, in particular, any relevant written statement made by him when he had capacity)’.
Mr Justice Hayden considered both medical evidence and evidence relating to what P would have wanted prior to losing capacity. Despite the views of family, Mr Justice Hayden concluded that life-support treatment should stop by the end of October.
It is not known whether family had authority to act under a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. In the event that they did, they would have been able to act on behalf of P and put forward their views to specialists. In addition, as part of the Lasting Power of Attorney, P could have included a term expressing her wishes as to what was to happen in the event there was no prospect of recovery and she required life-sustaining treatment.
If either you or a loved one is yet to make a Power of Attorney and would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated Court of Protection team on 01484 821500 or email us at email@example.com.
October 4, 2021
Natalie is a Partner and Solicitors in the Court of Protection department.