British High Court overturns earlier "right-to-food" ruling

The General Medical Council in the UK has won its appeal in the High Court against a ruling which earlier gave a seriously-ill patient the right to stop doctors withdrawing food and drink.

Leslie Burke, 45, who has a degenerative brain condition, fears artificial nutrition could be stopped against his wishes when he can no longer talk as his illness progresses.

The Court of Appeal yesterday overturned an earlier High Court ruling which said that any decision over withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from those who are terminally-ill should be left in the hands of the patients.

Lord Phillips, Master of the Rolls, and one of most senior judges, says they had come to the clear view that this appeal must be allowed and the declarations made by the judge set aside.

He said it is their view that Mr Burke's fears are addressed by the law as it currently stands.

The court ruled that the current guidelines of the General Medical Council, a body which regulates doctors, which were under challenge, already provided the protection that had been sought.

The court argued that there was nothing to suggest Mr Burke, would not be allowed to die naturally rather than have his death speeded up by being deprived of food and water when his condition became critical.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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