The Court of Protection considers issues relating to vulnerable people who may not be capable of making decisions, such as those with mental health problems, mental incapacity through accident or illness or those born with a mental defect. The impairment has to be sufficient that the person cannot not make decisions for themselves.
In recent weeks the Court has granted surgeons permission in one case to perform a hysterectomy on a patient with paranoid schizophrenia who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about treatment, a judge has ruled after a hearing in a specialist court.
Mr Justice MacDonald concluded that surgery would be in the woman’s best interests after bosses at an NHS hospitals trust with responsibility for any cancer treatment asked him for rulings.
The judge said he would outline the reasoning behind his decision in a written judgment which would be published soon.
The woman’s interests were represented by staff from the office of the official solicitor, who help vulnerable people embroiled in litigation.
Lawyers representing the NHS trust said the woman, who is in her 30s, had expressed a wish to have a child. But they said doctors thought she would die before the year ended if she did not have surgery. She had been admitted to hospital for surgery but had refused it necessitating an application to the Court given her very poor mental health and lack of ability to weigh decisions.
The Court accepted the proposition that without surgical treatment her life expectancy was approximately six months. If she has surgery she has the chance of a cure, and likely survival of at least three to five years.
Court of Protection applications and decision depend on there being a finding that the person to whom the application relates lack capacity and this is requires either a specialist assessment by a doctor or other professional or a Court declaration.
If you feel you need advice on an aspect of Court of Protection applications please contact Alison Lee our director of Biscoes care and vulnerable client department , 023 92660261 or at firstname.lastname@example.org