Re OT (A Child): CA 14 May 2009

Parents sought leave to challenge a decision made on the request of their child’s doctors to discontinue treatment to avoid a more painful but inevitable death. The parents alleged a defect in the procedure applied by the hospital.
Held: Permission to appeal was refused. The child’s death was inevitable. The hospital sought advice from third party doctors which confirmed their advice. ‘The facts (so we considered) were clear; the medical opinion was unambiguous; and, although one could not reasonably expect the parents to be able to bring objective opinion to bear upon so dreadful a situation, the only proper programme for OT in his interests was, as his own independent, professional representative contended, entirely obvious. Our view was that any accession by the trial judge to Mr Bowen’s application for an adjournment, whether on 6 March or on 19 March 2009 or, insofar as it could be said actually then to have been made, on any of the intervening days, would, in the light of OT’s condition, itself have been appealable. What plainly was not appealable was the judge’s decision to proceed forthwith, to conduct a full-scale, intensive, efficient yet unhurried determination, calibrated with an urgency commensurate with his generally deteriorating condition, of the most painful and profound issue imaginable, namely in effect whether OT should pass on immediately, or a little later following (so the judge found after an elaborate net reckoning of all relevant factors) profound further pain and misery.’


Lord Justice Wilson


[2009] EWCA Civ 409




England and Wales


CitedGlass v The United Kingdom ECHR 9-Mar-2004
The applicant’s adult son was disabled. There was a disagreement with the hospital about his care. The hospital considered that to alleviate his distress, he should not be resuscitated. The family wanted to take him home, fearing euthanasia. The . .
CitedWyatt and Another v Portsmouth Hospital NHS and Another CA 12-Oct-2005
The appellants’ daughter had been born with very severe disabilities. Her doctors obtained an order allowing them a discretion not to ventilate her to keep her alive if necessary. She had improved, but the family now sought leave to appeal an order . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Health, Children

Updated: 20 December 2022; Ref: scu.343893