Re W (Medical Treatment : Anorexia) [2016] EWCOP 13 (26 February 2016)

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Julie FitzpatrickIn this case, Miss W, a young woman aged 28, had suffered from anorexia nervosa for 20 years. Since the age of 11, she had had six admissions for inpatient treatment, amounting to about 10 years in total. Her current admission had lasted for 2½ years and yet, despite the most intensive support, she was barely eating and was losing weight at the rate of 500g-1kg per week. She weighed less than 30kg and her BMI was 12.6. If she continued to lose weight at that rate, she would die. In the circumstances, her local health board brought proceedings in the Court of Protection as a matter of urgency.

The matter was listed for hearing before the Honourable Mr Justice Peter Jackson who read reports from many of the medical professionals who had treated W, statements from W herself and from her family, and reports from the psychiatrist instructed by the Official Solicitor on behalf of W. The Honourable Mr Justice Peter Jackson approved the plan of the health board, namely that W should be discharged into the community with a closely thought-out package of support for her and her family. Whilst it seemed counterintuitive that someone so ill should be discharged from hospital, the evidence had shown that hospital treatment was unlikely to bring benefits. The outcome was to some extent in accordance with W’s wishes.

The full judgment can be read here

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