KM, RE [2021] EWCOP 42

This case concerned KM, a 52-year-old man, who was admitted to Hospital A on 19 January 2021 with shortness of breath and pleuritic chest pain. On 24 January 2021, he was transferred to the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Hospital B. Unfortunately, his condition has deteriorated over the course of the last three and a half months to the extent where it is said by his treating clinicians that his condition is irrecoverable and irreversible, and that continued treatment would be futile and overly burdensome.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust therefore made an application for permission to withdraw the life-sustaining treatment that KM currently receives. The application was supported by the Official Solicitor, who acted as KM’s litigation friend, but was strongly opposed by KM’s wife TM, by his son KWM, and by his brother-in-law KA.

All parties agreed that KM lacked the capacity both to conduct the litigation and to consent to his medical treatment. In considering whether the Trust should be permitted to withdraw the life-sustaining treatment which will, sadly but inevitably, lead to his death, the court considered, inter alia, the provisions of sections 1-4 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the presumption in favour of sustaining life wherever it is possible to do so, and the wishes and feelings of KM, his family and those who have had care of him.

KM has deeply held religious views which would never allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, and the court afforded these views considerable weight and great respect. However, the overwhelming medical evidence was that continuing treatment for KM was futile and would be at the cost of enormous great pain and distress for KM. Further, there was no prospect of him achieving a recovery. As such, the court concluded that it was in KM’s best interests that life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn.

The full judgement can be read here

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