NHS Trust v JP [2019] EWCOP 23 (18 June 2019)

The NHS Trust brought an application for declarations whether it was in P’s best interests to:

i) Deliver her baby via a Caesarean section under general anaesthetic

ii) Be transferred to hospital from her home in accordance with the transfer plan by 24th June

iii) Not inform her of the outcome of these proceedings.

It was agreed by the NHS Trust and the Official Solicitor that P lacked capacity to make decisions surrounding her obstetric care and delivery of her baby. She had moved out of the home she lived in with her mother, into a supported living placement. It had been concluded by the team at the NHS Trust that P required a caesarean section under general anaesthetic as it was the only safe way to manage her labour. However, this was contrary to P’s wishes as she had expressed a wish to have a natural birth and so the NHS Trust made an application.

Mr Justice Williams found that the evidence before him demonstrated that P lacked capacity to make decisions surrounding her antenatal care and delivery of her baby, which arose from a learning disability. In the evaluation of P’s best interests, the overall balance was in favour of the proposed treatment plan, provided that it was supplemented to deal with the psychological or psychiatric results of giving birth that way. It was therefore in P’s best interests to have the planned caesarean, the proposed transfer and the proposed postnatal care plan.

Fortunately, before this Judgment was finalised, P delivered her baby naturally and without the care plan that had been authorised to be implemented.

The full judgment can be read here.

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