Court ruling not needed to withdraw care, judge says

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  • Legal permission will no longer be required to end care for patients in a permanent vegetative state, a judge has ruled.

    Until now, even if medics and relatives agree to withdraw nutrition from a patient, a judge must also consent.

    But a landmark decision by Mr Justice Jackson means those cases will no longer have to come to court.

    The official solicitor, appointed by the state to act for such patients, is likely to appeal against the ruling.

    Doctors are able to withdraw treatment from a patient - if relatives consent - under various circumstances without needing court approval, for example, when a "do not resuscitate" order is made.

    However, removing sustenance from an individual in a vegetative or minimally conscious state has been treated differently.

    For nearly 25 years, these decisions have been referred to the Court of Protection, even where doctors and families agree.

    At last, a sensible decision, long overdue and one that will prevent a great deal of suffering of patients and relatives. Perhaps it may bring the argument for voluntary euthanasia one step nearer but in any event, I'm sure many will welcome this move.

  • As long is this is purely for those in a vegetative state and it's with the agreement of families, then I agree with this move. But as I have seen all too often, when elderly people with dementia are dosed up on sleeping tablets, they can appear comatose.

    This had better not be "mission creep" against them.

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