Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v AH [2021] EWCOP 64


15th Dec 2021 | News, Cases


Simon Miller and Martha Gray, instructed by Simon Bruce (Solicitor) of Dads House Family Law Clinic, represented pro bono the family of AH in the Court of Protection before Mrs. Justice Theis.

The Court of Protection heard oral evidence over two days relating to a case concerning AH described as the ‘most complex Covid patient in the world’. AH has been a patient at Addenbrooke’s Hospital since the end of December 2020 having been admitted on an emergency basis suffering from severe symptoms of Covid-19. The main issue centered around whether the hospital was able to withdraw life sustaining treatment. In November the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier decision which permitted the hospital to withdraw treatment and remitted the case for re-hearing.

Background

AH contracted Covid-19 in December 2020 and was admitted to hospital in late December 2020. By January 2021 her condition deteriorated, and she developed severe complications which led to multi-organ failure. AH sustained extensive damage to her nerves, muscles and brain.

AH is currently cared for in a critical care unit of the Hospital. She is dependent on mechanical ventilation, continuous nursing care, nutrition and hydration delivered via a nasogastric tube. AH is able to feel and show some degree of emotion and communication but does not have capacity to make decisions about her future treatment.

After hearing evidence from members of AH’s family and a number of doctors and individuals who were involved in the care of AH, Mr Justice Hayden gave permission for the hospital to withdraw all life sustaining treatment for AH.

Following the decision of Mr Justice Hayden, AH’s children sought permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal. The appeal was allowed and the case was remitted for re-hearing which took place in December.

Remitted re-hearing

The issues in this hearing centred on the medical prognosis and what the family described as changes in how AH has reacted and communicated to them in recent months. Over two days oral evidence was heard on behalf of the hospital, an expert instructed on behalf of the Official Solicitor and of AH’s children A, M, S and K and AH’s sister, T.

Mrs Justice Theis having considered the evidence and having weighed in the balance the strong presumption that it is in AH’s best interest to stay alive reached the conclusion that the burdens in these particular circumstances, with the prospect of no change and more probably a continued deterioration and risk of dying away from her family, outweigh the very considerable benefits. The declaration sought was granted.

Click here for the full judgment.


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