DH NHS Foundation Trust v PS [2010] EWHC 1217 (Fam)

(1) It was in PS's best interests to undergo a hysterectomy, and removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, in order to treat her endometrial cancer. (2) If, given her hospital and needle phobia, sedation or force were necessary to convey her to hospital, then that would be in her best interests. (3) It would be necessary to detain her in hospital for post-operative recovery; as it was in her best interests to have the operation, it was in her best interests to recover appropriately from it. In the circumstances, the court authorised the deprivation of liberty and it was unnecessary to invoke the DOL Safeguards.


The judgment is perhaps slightly ambiguous re point (3) above. It was not the case that the judge thought it unnecessary for the DOL Safeguards to be invoked merely because deprivation of liberty would be in PS's best interests. The reason was that the deprivation would be for a limited duration and it was simpler for the court to authorise the deprivation of liberty. (Thanks to Alex Ruck Keene of 39 Essex Street, whose colleague Parishil Patel was instructed by the OS, for this clarification.)

Official summary

The following is an extract from Judiciary of England and Wales, 'Court of Protection Report 2010' (July 2011).

7. DH NHS Foundation Trust v PS [2010] EWHC 1217 (Fam)B (Sir Nicholas Wall, President, 26 May 2010). www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2010/1217.html PS, a 55 year old woman with learning disability and a phobia of needles, lacked the capacity to make decisions about her own healthcare and treatment. She has endometrial cancer, and the doctors treating her were in no doubt that she needed to undergo a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries), and that without such surgical intervention, the tumour would spread, and ultimately lead to her death. In the past she had failed to attend hospital for treatment, and the clinical team concluded that special arrangements would need to be put in place both to ensure that she has the operation and that she remains in hospital for her post operative recovery.

The President held that it was in the best interests of PS that she undergo the operation, and that, if persuasion failed, it may be necessary to sedate PS in order to get her to hospital and detain her there to recover after the operation. He concluded his short judgment by stating, “I am entirely satisfied that it was right to make the declarations sought by the Trust, and although the application is unusual and may involve the use of force, I am nonetheless impressed by the care and thought which have gone into ensuring that PS receives the treatment which she plainly needs, and which it is plainly in her interests to have.”


[2010] EWHC 1217 (Fam)B, [2010] Fam Law 927, [2010] 2 FLR 1236B, [2010] Med LR 320, (2010) 116 BMLR 142

Duplicate Bailii citation number: [2010] EWHC 1217 (COP)B

External link


Press Association, 'Judge backs use of force on patient' (26/5/11)