Intended for healthcare professionals


Judge issues guidance after “troubling” case of woman with reduced capacity whose treatment was delayed

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 06 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m527
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

The vice president of the Court of Protection has issued new guidance on medical treatment for patients who cannot take treatment decisions for themselves, warning that delays in applying to the court can turn a treatable condition into a fatal one.1

Mr Justice Hayden attached the guidance to his judgment in the case of a woman with squamous cell carcinoma who was referred to Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by her GP in October 2018. She was assessed as lacking capacity to decide on treatment in May 2019, but an application to the Court of Protection was not made until 20 December. That date was the end of the legal term, and the case could not be heard until the start of the new term, on 14 January this year.

The 71 year old patient, referred to as Mrs H, had bipolar disorder and a history of being sectioned under the Mental Health …

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