NZ, Re (Mental Capacity Act 2005) [2021] EWCOP 16

This was a tragic case concerning NZ, a woman in her early thirties, who was gravely ill with pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lung tissue, caused by Covid-19 which she had contracted in January 2021.  NZ was suffering several other medical complications in consequence of the inflammation.

NZ had been married for 6 years and had a 3-year-old daughter.  At the time of P’s admission to hospital on 20/01/21 she was 32 weeks pregnant with her son and, due to concerns that the pregnancy may be exacerbating her difficulty breathing, he was delivered by way of an emergency caesarean section the following day.  Unfortunately, NZ’s condition continued to deteriorate and on 22/01/21 she was transferred to intensive care.

The clinical team considered NZ's condition to be precarious and, because of the escalating gravity of her situation, the Applicant NHS Trust was seeking urgent declarations pursuant to section 15 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, firstly, that NZ lacked the capacity to make decisions about her care and treatment and, secondly, that it would not be in her best interests to continue to receive life-sustaining treatment by way of the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, (ECMO). The Trust proposed a palliative care regime.

The application was supported by the Official Solicitor, but it was opposed by NZ's husband, MA, and by her sister, RZ.

The Judge granted the declarations sought.  The Judge stated that the objective here was not to shorten NZ’s life but to avoid the prolongation of her death.  The care plan was for NZ to have her husband and family with her at the end and was structured to avert further pain and promote NZ’s dignity at the end of her life.

The full judgement can be read here

If you have any questions regarding this summary case law please contact Amanda Dinnin here

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