A LIVERPOOL family successfully blocked doctors’ moves to withhold treatment to a seriously-ill grandad.
A hospital trust, which cannot be named for legal reasons, went to court to get legal endorsement to withhold future treatment from 68-year-old grandad David James should his condition deteriorate.
But after hearing the case Justice Peter Jackson declined their application which asked for the right not to offer him “aggressive” treatments. Medics do not want to resuscitate him if he suffers a cardiac arrest or give him invasive support for low blood pressure or kidney failure if his condition worsens, claiming to do so would be “overly burdensome” and “futile”.
But Judge Jackson refused to make the declarations they sought.
He said: “Although Mr James’s condition is in many respects grim, I am not persuaded that treatment would be futile or overly burdensome or that there is no prospect of recovery.
“Although the burdens of treatment are very great indeed, they have to be weighed against the benefits of a continued existence.”
Judge Jackson also gave weight to Mr James’s “fluctuating” medical condition saying because of this it would not be right to “validate” in advance the withholding of the treatments mentioned in all circumstances.
The hospital trust asked for permission to appeal but the judge declined, saying it would be a matter for the Court of Appeal.
Professional musician Mr James, who had a hit record with a band called Candlewick Green, was admitted to hospital with constipation in May.
But he went on to develop pneumonia and became critically unwell. He has had a stroke, resulting in damage to the brain and loss of function on his right side, and he has also had a number of cardiac arrests and suffered kidney damage.
Medics treating him said he had had numerous, and was prone to, “septic episodes” (of infection) which made further brain damage likely and irreversible.
Doctor A who spoke for the whole team treating the grandad-of-three described Mr James as being in a “minimally conscious state”.
An independent doctor Christopher Danbury who examined Mr James confirmed this diagnosis and said his chance of leaving the hospital was less than 1%.
As a result of his illness, Mr James does not have the capacity to make decisions about his medical treatment.
But during the hearing Mr James’s wife May and daughter Julie described how well he had looked recently and spoke of how they could read his lips to communicate with him. He is able to smile, takes pleasure from family visits and has recently spent time off his ventilator (breathing machine).
Mrs James, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in September, said she knew her husband would want all the treatments because of the determination he showed to beat colon cancer 11 years ago.
A hospital spokesman said: “Our critical care teams continue to give Mr James dedicated, specialist care to meet his clinical needs. We will now review the judgement and decide on the next steps for Mr James’s care. Our thoughts are with Mr James and his family at this very difficult time.”
Earlier Trust barrister Vikram Sachdeva said whatever the outcome of the hearing current treatment would continue and they had no intention of removing any of the treatment they are providing or putting him on a palliative pathway.
Theresa Pepper, barrister for the James family, had pleaded with the judge to give Mr James more “time”. She said: “All the family ask if that your lordship says to the Trust the time is not right to make these declarations.
“It may be that the prognosis is gloomy but the way things are going at the moment surely requires things to be looked at on a situation by situation basis.
“It can’t be right that if certain things happen then none of these treatments are contemplated. If the situation was hopeless things may well be different.
“In the end there may not be a joyous outcome but surely what Mr James does deserve is time.”