Responding to the ongoing case of Paul Briggs, Usha Grieve, Director of Information and Partnerships at Compassion in Dying said:

“The family of Paul Briggs must now wait for a judgement on whether or not doctors can withdraw his life-sustaining treatment. Over four tense days the Court of Protection has heard arguments from both sides on what is in the best interests of Paul, who is severely brain injured.

“All too often Compassion in Dying hears from people who, like Paul’s family, have suffered a double tragedy: seeing a loved one lose capacity through a horrific accident, and then having to stand by while they receive life-prolonging treatment they know they wouldn’t have wanted. The way to ensure you do not receive medical treatment you would not want is to make an Advance Decision, something which we can help people complete for free. You can also appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare.

“Many people mistakenly believe that family members are able to intervene in these situations and make decisions about treatment, but in the absence of an Advance Decision or a Lasting Power of Attorney it is doctors that have the final say. No one expects to have an accident like Paul’s, but the heart-breaking reality is that they do happen. Just 4% of people have planned ahead and recorded their wishes in a legally binding way – meaning that if tragedy does strike, the vast majority of us could receive treatment we don’t want, with our loved ones powerless to stop it.

“We urge anyone with strong feelings about their medical care and treatment to plan ahead using free websites like www.mydecisions.org.uk. Free, specialist advice is available to everyone via Compassion in Dying’s Information Line (0800 999 2434) and website. Planning ahead now, while we are still able to, means that if the worst does happen, we can avoid more tragedies like Paul’s.”

***ENDS***

For more information please contact Ellie Ball, Media & Campaigns Officer at Compassion in Dying via ellie.ball@compassionindying.org.uk / 07725 433 025 / 0207 479 7732.

Notes to Editor

  • Paul Briggs, a 43 year old police officer and Gulf War veteran from Merseyside, was knocked off his motorbike in 2015, which resulted in a significant brain injury.
  • This week his family, including wife Lindsey Briggs, were at the Court of Protection in Manchester asking the court to withdraw his life-sustaining treatment.
  • Doctors have said that even in a best case scenario, PC Briggs would remain severely brain damaged. Mrs Briggs has told the court that her husband wouldn’t want to be kept alive and that ‘he would see it as torture, just as hell’.
  • Compassion in Dying is a national charity (no. 1120203) that aims to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their legal rights and choices. We are a leading provider of free Advance Decisions in the UK and we also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care.
  • Compassion in Dying is a charity that provides free support for people to plan ahead for a time that they may lack capacity to make decisions about their treatment including a Freephone information line 0800 999 2434.
  • Compassion in Dying developed www.mydecisions.org.uk which is a website the public can use for free to make a legally binding Advanced Decision or an Advance statement.