Withdrawal of life support and religious belief: St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P & Anor

The facts

P is a devout Sunni Muslim. In November 2014 he had a major cardiac arrest and it was 25 minutes until spontaneous circulation was restored, with the result that he suffered serious brain damage. He is now wholly dependant on the Intensive Care Unit at St George’s Hospital for his care, which includes renal replacement therapy (RRT); and in St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P & Anor [2015] EWCOP 42, the NHS Trust sought declarations that P lacked capacity (which was uncontentious), that it was not in his best interests to receive cardio-pulmonary resuscitation in the event of a further cardiac arrest (also uncontentious) and

“As to whether it is lawful to continue to provide RRT, the Trust wish to discontinue life sustaining treatment with the inexorable and inevitable consequence that as a result P would quickly die” [2].

There was a dispute about the diagnosis: in short, whether P was in a permanent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state: however, there was little dispute between the experts that the prognosis was that he was unlikely ever to make a full recovery [12]. Continue reading