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16 November 2017

Statement on Mr Y and withdrawal of treatment decisions

This is another tragic example of what can happen when people do not record their wishes for future medical treatment and care

Natalie Koussa, Director of Partnerships & Services at Compassion in Dying, said,

“This is another tragic example of what can happen when people do not record their wishes for future medical treatment and care. Our thoughts go out to Mr Y’s loved ones, who have already suffered the heartbreak of seeing him sustain severe brain damage and are now having to endure further distress while the court decides whether he should continue to receive life-prolonging treatment – something both his family and his doctors agree is not in his best interests.

“If this case is to go to the Supreme Court, we hope it can be dealt with quickly, for Mr Y and his loved ones’ sake, but also so that the legal question over whether these cases do need to go to court can be fully resolved. Doctors and families need further clarity on this.

“No one plans to have an accident or become unwell – but there are things you can do now to help ensure that what has happened in this case does not happen to you and your family. An Advance Decision, also known as a Living Will, is a legally-binding document that allows you to state whether you would want to refuse life-prolonging treatment should you later become unable to make or communicate these decisions for yourself. Rather than leaving these choices up to family members, doctors, or the courts, who may disagree over what you would have wanted, making an Advance Decision means that you can remain in control of future decisions about your care and treatment and feel reassured that your wishes will be followed, even if tragedy strikes.

“Most people have strong feelings about the treatment they would or would not want to receive in such situations – yet just 4% of us have recorded our wishes in this way. We urge everyone to take the time to consider would they would want and make an Advance Decision using free websites like Free, specialist information is available to all via Compassion in Dying’s Information Line (0800 999 2434) and website.”


For further information or interview requests, please contact Ellie Ball, Media & Campaigns Officer, at or 0207 479 7732

Notes to Editor:

An Advance Decision (to Refuse Treatment), also known as a Living Will, or an Advance Directive in Scotland, is a legal way of recording your wish to refuse life-prolonging medical treatment in certain circumstances, to be followed if you lose capacity to make or communicate decisions about your treatment or care in future through injury or illness. There is no standard Advance Decision format, rather there are just requirements any Advance Decision must meet to be valid. If it does so it must be legally respected by a doctor. Compassion in Dying is the UK’s leading provider of free Advance Decisions.

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 also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care.

Compassion in Dying provides free support for people to plan ahead for a time that they may lack capacity to make decisions about their treatment, including via a Freephone information line 0800 999 2434 and, a website the public can use for free to make a legally binding Advanced Decision or an Advance Statement.

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