Why a woman who lost her ‘sparkle’ was allowed to die

Ann-Marie Aston, a Senior Associate in the Court of Protection Team at the Wilkes Partnership, discusses the recent judgment of a 50 year old woman who was allowed to end her life by the Court of Protection.

“The Court of Protection effectively granted a 50 year old woman permission to die, as she was considered competent to refuse life-saving dialysis treatment after she destroyed her kidneys in an attempted suicide. The lady in question tried to take her own life following a diagnosis of cancer, and did not want to live a life where she felt she had “lost her sparkle”. The lady has since died following the judgement.

The judge confirmed that the principle remains the same for any patient, “The right to refuse treatment extends to declining treatment that would, if administered, save the life of the patient”, confirming the long-established right of a patient to choose whether to accept or refuse medical treatment. The Court confirmed that its intervention is only required where a patient does not have the mental capacity to decide whether to accept or refuse treatment.

Although some would consider the decision to refuse life-saving treatment to be illogical or unreasonable, that does not equate to a lack of capacity to make the decision. This issue highlights the importance of the Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. If a person does lose capacity, their Attorneys can ensure that their views and beliefs are communicated to the medical profession so that a decision can be made whether to accept or refuse life-saving treatment that should be in the best interests of the specific patient.

For more information about Lasting Powers of Attorney please contact Ann-Marie Aston of the Wilkes Partnership LLP on aaston@wilkes.co.uk or 0121 733 8000.”