Disabled campaigners have warned that a Supreme Court ruling has removed a vital safeguard that protected the lives of brain-damaged patients who have been left unconscious.
The Supreme Court ruled this week that families and doctors will no longer have to seek a court order if they agree to end the life of a patient with a “prolonged disorder of consciousness” (PDOC)* by withdrawing food and fluids.
The court had been hearing the case of a man, Y, who never regained consciousness after a heart attack left him severely brain-damaged and in a permanent vegetative state (PVS).
Y had to be kept alive with water and liquid nutrition, but his family and doctors agreed that it was in his best interests for this to be withdrawn so he could be left to die.
The NHS trust that was treating him sought a declaration from the courts that they could do so without an order from the Court of Protection.
This was granted by the high court, but the official solicitor appealed to the Supreme Court, which this week unanimously dismissed the appeal.
Disabled campaigners have raised grave concerns about the judgment.