Re AW (Permanent Vegetative State); The NHS Trust v AW  EWHC 78 (COP),  MHLO 3
AW was in a permanent vegetative state, having suffered a spontaneous, severe intra-cerebral haemorrhage in 2008. The NHS Trust responsible for AW's care sought a declaration that it would be lawful and in her best interests to withdraw active medical treatment, including specifically artificial nutrition and hydration, even though this would lead to AW's death. The application was supported by AW's family, by all the medical staff who looked after her, by the evidence of the expert witnesses provided reports, and by the Official Solicitor on behalf of AW herself. (1) The judge's findings were as follows: (a) AW is in a permanent vegetative state; (b) there will be no change or improvement in her condition; (c) there is no treatment available which could confer any benefit and that accordingly her treatment regime is futile; and (d) the suffering caused by withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration will be managed by appropriate use of pain relief in accordance with the plan that has been created for AW. (2) The following declarations were made: (a) AW lacks capacity to litigate in these proceedings or to make decisions about the medical treatment she should receive, including as to the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and other life-sustaining treatment; (b) it is lawful and in AWs best interests for life-sustaining treatment in the form of artificial nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn; and (c) it is in AW's best interests to receive such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that she retains the greatest dignity until her life ends. (3) By agreement, the NHS Trust was ordered to pay half of the costs of the Official Solicitor, to be subject to detailed assessment if not agreed.
Before: Peter Jackson J
Victoria Butler-Cole (instructed by Hill Dickinson) for the NHS Trust
Christopher Johnston QC (instructed by the Official Solicitor) for AW