Judge rules man has mental capacity to refuse hospital treatment

A father of two in his 40s who doesn’t want to be treated in hospital even though he may not live to see the New Year has won a fight to have his wishes respected.

The man, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, weighs less than six stone and says eating causes him stomach pain.

Doctors believe his condition should be investigated, but the man told a judge on Tuesday he made an “advance decision” to refuse hospital treatment five years ago.

He said he had a “phobia” of the hospital and did not want to undergo any type of invasive treatment.

Judge Hayden decided that the man had the mental capacity to make such a decision and ruled that his advance decision to refuse treatment was valid.

He analyzed the evidence during a hearing at the Court of Protection in London, where judges consider issues about people who may not have the mental capacity to make decisions, and said the man could not be identified in media reports on the case.

Lawyers representing the Leatherhead-based NHS Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care Board, which is responsible for the man’s care, had asked the judge to look into the case as a matter of urgency.

The man thanked the judge for respecting his wishes.

Judge Hayden heard the man survived on water and a nutritious drink called Fortisip, and refused to take a Covid or flu shot.

“There is a real risk that (he) will not survive the Christmas period,” the judge said.

“If he is exposed to an infection, he no longer has the physical stamina or strength to resist it effectively.”

The judge told the man, “One of the consequences of my decision today, to put it bluntly, is that you could die. I place the decision-making process entirely in your hands.

The man told the judge, “Thank you for your time and patience and for respecting my wishes.”

Lawyer Emma Sutton, who represented the health authority, outlined the details of the case and said the man made his early decision in 2017 when he was in his late 30s.

She said he used a model produced by an organization called Compassion In Dying.

A GP visited the man regularly and raised concerns he could die over the festive period without treatment, the judge heard.

Judge Hayden said he had to decide whether the man made an “ability” decision – not a wise decision.

The judge added: “I am clear that this is a capacity decision.”

He said, in any event, he did not believe forcing the treatment would be in the best human interest.

Judge Hayden heard the man, an avid guitarist who owns a 1962 Fender Stratocaster, lived alone but had two adult children who visited him regularly.

He asked the man what the children would like. The man replied, “Respect my wishes, I guess.”

The man was unrepresented by lawyers and spoke with the judge by telephone.

Judge Hayden said he could adjourn the hearing to give the man time to find a lawyer.

But the man said he would prefer the judge to make a decision.

Her children did not participate in the hearing.

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