Judge rules in favour of pensioner's right to die

Salford Royal NHS Trust Credit: PA

A judge has given his ruling in a case which has divided a family over a pensioner's right to die.

The 72 year old woman was left in a minimally conscious state after suffering an aneurysm following a fall.

Doctors at the Salford Royal NHS Trust wanted artificial feeding to continue, a view supported by her sisters who hoped her condition would improve.

But the pensioner's daughters and partner disagreed.

A judge has concluded she would have found her "present circumstances" to be "not only intolerable but humiliating"

The judge ruled she would have viewed her "present high level of dependency and minimal awareness" to be a "travesty of life".

He said the pensioner's "incapacitous state" did not mean that her wishes could be "disregarded".

The judge had analysed evidence at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, in Preston, Lancashire, earlier this month.

He said the pensioner could not be identified but said bosses at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, in Greater Manchester, had asked for a ruling on whether life-support treatment should continue.

A lawyer who represented one of the pensioner's daughters said, following the publication of the judge's ruling on Monday, that there were no winners or losers.

Mathieu Culverhouse, who is based at law firm Irwin Mitchell said:

"In this case, after hearing all the evidence presented to the court by the family and medical experts, the judge has decided that withdrawing the life-sustaining treatment is in my client's mother's best interests given her current quality of life and her previously expressed wishes and feelings."

He added: "Whilst the court has dealt with the case very sensitively, my client and her sister have found it distressing and painful to have to go to court to fight for their mother's wishes to be respected, and they hope that in future a different way can be found to resolve cases such as this, so that other families do not have to go through the same ordeal."