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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Brothers lose court case for father to 'pass away at home' while fed through tube

Written by Brian Farmer

Four brothers who wanted their sick elderly father to be allowed to leave hospital and "naturally pass away" at home after complaining about the way he was being cared for in hospital have lost a fight in a specialist court.

Bosses at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust asked a judge to let medics stop artificially providing nutrition and hydration to the pensioner, who has been diagnosed with "end stage dementia", and allow him to "die with dignity".

Specialists said the man, who is in his 70s, could live for between six months and a year if he continued to be fed by artificial means.

But they said feeding the man through a tube was "invasive" and an unfair burden.

They said he should be allowed to go home but said there was "no benefit" in simply prolonging his life through artificial feeding.

The man's sons disagreed.

They wanted him to leave hospital and be fed through a tube at his home until he "naturally passes away".

The four men said they could oversee feeding and care with the help of community medics.

Mrs Justice Parker has ruled against the man's sons after analysing competing arguments at a trial in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, in London.

She said she had reached the conclusion that the artificial provision of nutrition and hydration was no longer justified.

The judge said the brothers wanted the best for their father.

But she said their proposal for feeding through a tube at his home was "completely untried and untested".

"Many things could go wrong," she said.

"It is simply not possible for me to discount the serious risks."

The judge said the man could go home but should only receive palliative care.

She added: "Palliation would make (the man) as comfortable as possible."

Mrs Justice Parker heard that the man's sons had made "very serious allegations" against staff involved in his care and become embroiled in a dispute with hospital bosses.

Barrister Katie Scott, who represented trust bosses, said restrictions on when the brothers could visit the pensioner had been imposed because of concerns about their behaviour.

She added: "The (trust) wishes to make completely clear that it refutes and rejects in the strongest of terms the very serious allegations made against its staff by the (man's sons)."

- A judge initially said no-one involved, including the trust, could be identified in media reports. But Mrs Justice Parker said the trust could be named after the Press Association raised concern. Journalists argued that debate about important issues would be stifled if people were not told the names of hospital authorities involved in such cases. The men wanted the judge to allow their father to be named. But Mrs Justice Parker said the pensioner had a right to respect for private life and should stay anonymous. She also said doctors and nurses involved in the pensioner's care could not be identified.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire.