COURT OF APPEAL JUDGEMENT IN THE CASE OF MR LESLIE BURKE

The Medical Ethics Alliance share Mr Leslie Burke`s disappointment that his advance request to receive food and fluid at the end of life is not to be considered determinative.

We welcome, however, Lord Philip's comment ;

“Where a competent patient indicates his or her wish to be kept alive by the provision of ANH [artificial nutrition and hydration ], any doctor who deliberately brings that patient's life to an end by discontinuing the supply of ANH will not only merely be in breach of duty but guilty of murder”.

This greatly clarifies the position for some patients, but does not help the more vulnerable patients who can neither communicate, or who are not competent.

Whilst seeking to reassure Mr Burke personally, the judgement is silent on the central question of whether dying from avoidable thirst, is compatible with human rights?

We hope this will be further clarified,if necessary by the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

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Dr A Cole