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An NHS Foundation Trust v T [2016] EWHC 2980 (Fam)

Decision of Mr Justice Peter Jackson in relation to an application for declarations in respect of treatment, including the administration of blood products, to a two year old boy, T, whose parents are Jehovah's Witnesses.

An NHS Trust ('the Trust') applied for an order in relation to administration of blood and blood products to T, a little boy who suffers from low blood platelet count. T's treating doctors considered that he may have a medical condition affecting his production of bone marrow, as a result of which T has been the subject of investigation and hospital treatment from time to time.

The Court had available to it a report from T's Consultant Paediatric Haematologist who indicated that, at the present time and from time to time in the future, T will need to have blood products administered to him in order to prevent a very serious deterioration in his health.

T's parents were unable to consent to the administration of blood products to T, as they belong to the Jehovah's Witness faith, but they did not oppose the application, instead leaving the decision to the court. Whilst they did not attend court, and were not represented, they sent letters fully explaining the position in which they found themselves. T's parents emphasised that they would want forms of treatment other than the administration of blood products to be considered in any case in which they might be equally effective. That was also the position of the Trust.

The court concluded, having read the medical evidence and having considered the view of T's parents, that it is 'overwhelmingly' in T's best interests for him to be able to receive the proposed treatment in order for his health to be supported and further that the inability of the hospital to give him this treatment could lead to 'very serious and possibly even fatal consequences as time went on.'

Mr Justice Peter Jackson declared that it is lawful and in T's best interests that he receives blood or blood products should the same be clinically indicated in the opinion of the treating doctors. The order, made under the inherent jurisdiction, recorded that such treatment will only be given after consultation with the parents and that blood products or blood will only be used if there is no clinically appropriate alternative.

Summary by Emily Ward, barrister, Broadway House Chambers
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Case No: FD16P00641
Neutral Citation Number:
[2016] EWHC 2980 (Fam)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 18 November 2016

Before:
 
THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE PETER JACKSON

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AN NHS FOUNDATION TRUST Applicant
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(1) MRS T 
(2) MR T
 Respondents
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Claire Watson (instructed by Capsticks LLP) for the Applicant
The Respondents did not attend and were not represented

Hearing date: 18 November 2016
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NOTE OF JUDGMENT
APPROVED BY THE JUDGE
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JUDGMENT
MR JUSTICE PETER JACKSON:
1.  This is an application in relation to a 2-year-old boy known as Child T.  Unfortunately, he suffers from a low blood platelet count, which has led his treating doctors to consider that he may have a medical condition affecting his production of bone marrow. This is causing problems which have led him to be the subject of investigation and hospital treatment from time to time.

2. I have read reports from the Consultant Paediatric Haematologist who is responsible for T's treatment. He indicates that, at the present time and from time to time in the future, T is going to need to have blood products administered to him in order to prevent a very serious deterioration in his health.

3. T's parents are fully committed to their son and to achieving the best outcome for him. But the particular form of treatment (by the administration of blood products) causes them problems because they belong to the Jehovah's Witness faith. They have not attended court but have sent letters which fully explain the position they find themselves in. They are understandably unable to consent to what is being proposed but they do not oppose it and leave the decision to the Court. They emphasise that they would want forms of treatment other than the administration of blood products to be considered in any case in which they might be equally effective, and that is also the position of the Hospital Trust bringing the application.

4. I should mention that T himself is not legally represented and in the circumstances of the case I do not consider that to be necessary. Further, the Hospital Trust making the application had paperwork in order in case a reporting restriction order was needed but, having heard from Mr Farmer of the Press Association, I am satisfied that none is needed as there is no likelihood of this case attracting significant media attention. At all events this hearing has taken place in private and a judgment which does not name the child or the hospital will be recorded on the BAILII website in due course.

5. I am in no doubt at all, having read the medical evidence and having considered the views of T's parents, that it is overwhelmingly in T's best interests for him to be able to receive this treatment in order for his health to be supported and that the inability of the hospital to give him this treatment could lead to very serious and possibly even fatal consequences as time went on. I am satisfied that it is necessary for the Court to make the decision instead of the parents.

6. I will therefore approve the Order which has been placed before the Court which provides that, notwithstanding the absence of parental consent, it is lawful and in T's best interests that he receives blood or blood products should the same be clinically indicated in the opinion of the treating doctors. The Order will record that such treatment will only be given after consultation with the parents and that blood products or blood will only be used if there is no clinically appropriate alternative.

7. The Order will be made under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court and not under section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

8. I make the procedural orders allowing the Hospital Trust permission to bring this application.

9. That is my judgment.
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