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Schizophrenic woman to be treated for cancer despite objections

An elderly woman suffering from schizophrenia will be treated for cancer despite her objections, the Court of Protection has ruled.

In An NHS Trust v J, the 79 year old woman with “longstanding mental health problems” was diagnosed with the disease after ulcers on her legs were found to be cancerous.

Despite the diagnosis, she “strongly” opposed any treatment. As a result, the hospital applied to the Court of Protection to carry on with treatment without her consent.

The application was made using the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to claim she was unable to make an informed decision about what was in her best interest.

Under this Act, decisions can be made on a person’s behalf if they are judged to be incapable of doing so for themselves.

Sitting at the Leeds District Registry, Mr Justice Bodey made sure to point out that section 1(iv) of the Act states that just because a person “makes an unwise decision”, it does not necessarily follow that they lack the capacity to make a decision at all.

The woman’s longstanding GP agreed with the assessment that she was unable to make decisions of this importance. He told the Court that she had a “delusional nature”. She did not believe she had cancer, was convinced nothing was wrong with her and did not want people to “experiment” on her.

The medical experts consulting on the case all agreed that a surgical intervention would be in the woman’s best interests, despite her strong objections.

The judge said the woman “cannot weigh up the decision for herself”, and concluded that her best interests would be served if the doctors went ahead with the cancer treatment.

Photo of Leeds by andrew_roberts_UK via Wikipedia

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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