Airedale NHS Trust v Bland: CA 9 Dec 1992

The official Solicitor appealed against a decision that doctors could withdraw medical treatment including artificial nutrition, from a patient in persistent vegetative state.
Held: The doctors sought permission to act in accordance with recommended medical practice. Agreement was universal that there was no prospect of the patient’s improvement, nor any purpose in continued treatment. The purpose of medical treatment was to act for the benefit of the patient, and no benefit was being derived. The inviolability of life is not an absolute, and hear no direct interference was proposed, but rather the withdrawal of support. The appeal failed.
Hoffmann LJ said: ‘we have a strong feeling that there is an intrinsic value in human life, irrespective of whether it is valuable to the person concerned or indeed to anyone else. Those who adhere to religious faiths which believe in the sanctity of all God’s creation and in particular that human life was created in the image of God himself will have no difficulty with the concept of the intrinsic value of human life. But even those without any religious belief think in the same way. In a case like this we should not try to analyse the rationality of such feelings. What matters is that, in one form or another, they form part of almost everyone’s intuitive values. No law which ignores them can possibly hope to be acceptable.’


Sir Thomas Bingham MR, Butler-Sloss and Hoffmann LJJ


[1993] 2 WLR 316




England and Wales


CitedIn re T (Adult: Refusal of Treatment) CA 1992
A patient’s right to veto medical treatment is absolute: ‘This right of choice is not limited to decisions which others might regard as sensible. It exists notwithstanding that the reasons for making the choice are rational, irrational, unknown or . .
CitedSidaway v Board of Governors of the Bethlem Royal Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital HL 21-Feb-1985
Explanation of Medical Risks essential
The plaintiff alleged negligence in the failure by a surgeon to disclose or explain to her the risks inherent in the operation which he had advised.
Held: The appeal failed. A mentally competent patient has an absolute right to refuse to . .
CitedRegina v Stone and Dobinson CACD 1977
The male defendant, Stone, and his mentally disabled son lived in Stone’s house with the female defendant, Dobinson. Stone’s sister came to live as a lodger. She neglected herself to such an extent that she became helplessly infirm. Fanny refused to . .
CitedRegina v Cox 18-Sep-1992
Whether the questioning of a suspect in a police station amounted to an interview was a question of fact dependant upon all the circumstances, including the rest, arrival at the police station, caution, the notification of rights, and the nature of . .
CitedIn re Quinlan 1976
Protecting the privacy rights of incompetent dying patients. . .
CitedNancy B v Hotel-Dieu de Quebec 1992
An individual of full capacity is not obliged to give consent to medical treatment, nor is a medical practitioner or other service provider under any obligation to provide such treatment without consent, even if the failure to treat will result in . .
CitedMalette v Shulman Jobes, In re 1990
‘The right to determine what shall be done with one’s own body is a fundamental right in our society. The concepts inherent in this right are the bedrock upon which the principles of self-determination and individual autonomy are based. Free . .
CitedIn Re B (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment) CA 1981
The child was born with Down’s Syndrome and an intestinal blockage. She needed the obstruction to be relieved if she was to survive. If the operation were performed, the child might die within a few months but it was probable that her life . .
CitedIn re B (A Minor) (Wardship: Sterilisation) HL 1987
Paramount Consideration in Wardship Application
The House considered a case involving the sterilisation of a girl just under 18, who suffered from mental disability.
Held: A court exercising wardship jurisdiction, when reaching a decision on an application to authorise an operation for . .
CitedIn re C (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment) CA 1989
. .
CitedIn re F (Mental Patient: Sterilisation) HL 4-May-1989
Where a patient lacks capacity, there is the power to provide him with whatever treatment or care is necessary in his own best interests. Medical treatment can be undertaken in an emergency even if, through a lack of capacity, no consent had been . .
CitedIn re J (a Minor) (Wardship: Medical treatment) CA 1-Oct-1990
J was born at 27 weeks’, weighing only 1.1kg. He suffered very severe and permanent brain damage at the time of his birth, the brain tissue then lost being irreplaceable. He was epileptic and the medical evidence was that he was likely to develop . .
At FDAiredale NHS Trust v Bland FD 19-Nov-1992
The patient had suffered catastrophic injuries in 1989, leaving him in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). The doctors sought leave to discontinue life maintaining treatment and medical support. The inevitable result would be his death. The . .
CitedBolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee QBD 1957
Professional to use Skilled Persons Ordinary Care
Negligence was alleged against a doctor.
Held: McNair J directed the jury: ‘Where some special skill is exercised, the test for negligence is not the test of the man on the Clapham omnibus, because he has not got this special skill. The test . .

Cited by:

At CAAiredale NHS Trust v Bland HL 4-Feb-1993
Procedures on Withdrawal of Life Support Treatment
The patient had been severely injured in the Hillsborough disaster, and had come to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). The doctors sought permission to withdraw medical treatment. The Official Solicitor appealed against an order of the Court . .
CitedPortsmouth NHS Trust v Wyatt and others FD 7-Oct-2004
Charlotte Wyatt was born prematurely, and depended for day to day her life on medical support. Her doctors asked to be permitted not to resuscitate her again if she needed it. Her parents asked that she be given whatever chance was available for her . .
CitedNicklinson and Another, Regina (on The Application of) SC 25-Jun-2014
Criminality of Assisting Suicide not Infringing
The court was asked: ‘whether the present state of the law of England and Wales relating to assisting suicide infringes the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the code published by the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Health, Health Professions, Administrative

Updated: 27 April 2022; Ref: scu.174706