Intended for healthcare professionals


Trust was wrong to exclude parents from meeting about care of disabled child, says judge

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 29 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3019

Linked Opinion

A wake-up call for clinical ethics committees

  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

The NHS trust that runs Great Ormond Street Hospital in London failed to take sufficient account of a severely disabled child’s quality of life in concluding that she should have only palliative care if her condition deteriorated, a High Court judge has ruled.1

Ms Justice Russell said that it was “essential” to involve parents where the quality of life of a disabled child was a central issue at a clinical ethics committee meeting. A decision by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust not to involve the parents in a meeting, but to explain the outcome to them later that day, “had the effect of both raising their anxiety and contributing to their feelings of alienation and exclusion,” said the judge.

She added, “The absence of any prior consultation or participation cannot be good practice and should generally be unacceptable. Even at hastily assembled meetings there should be notice taken of the …

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