Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust v DE [2019] EWCOP 19

This was an application by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust for a declaration that DE, a Jehovah’s Witness, lacks capacity to conduct proceedings, and to consent to treatment on her left leg, and that it is lawful and in her best interests for her to be given blood products if it becomes clinically necessary during an operation on her left leg.

DE is a 49 year old woman who suffers from autism and mild learning difficulties. On 11 April 2019 she fell down the stairs of a bus, sustaining a serious break to her left femur and tibia. She was admitted to the Applicant’s hospital where it was considered that she required urgent surgical fixation of the femur and possibly the tibia. There was a risk that during the operation DE would require a blood transfusion. Capacity assessments carried out during the period of DE’s admission to hospital concluded that she did not have capacity to decide whether or not to have a transfusion if clinically needed.

The court granted the application. DE was not strongly identifying herself with the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and indeed her mother supported the operation going ahead. In the circumstances, the court had no hesitation in finding that it was in DE’s best interests to have the operation.

The full judgment can be read here.

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