Family’s fury as judge gives anorexic woman just ‘days’ away from death the power to decide if she should be given life-saving care – as they claim she is too ill to make choices
An anorexic woman has been granted the autonomy to choose to die after asking to be discharged home from hospital.
A judge ruled that Patricia, 24, should be allowed to decide whether she continues life-saving treatment, despite her parents fearing she is too sick to make choices.
A court heard how the woman, who has an estimated BMI of between eight and 10, signed an advanced directive refusing life-saving care last year.
The NHS trust – which cannot be disclosed for legal reasons – treating her asked the Court of Protection if her wishes should be followed.
But after the ruling, Patricia’s family slammed the court’s decision, telling the Telegraph they are ‘absolutely appalled’ by the outcome and claim that her fragile mental state means she is not able to make decisions about her care.
NHS trust treating her asked the Court of Protection (pictured) if her wishes should be followed
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Patricia, who is ‘days or even hours’ from death, is able to leave the hospital to receive palliative care at home.
Her family say that since signing the advance directive last year that allows her to refuse life-saving care, she has been ‘begging’ eating disorder units to take her in.
The outlet reported that at an initial hearing in May, Mr Justice Moor said ‘Patricia, at present, lacks capacity to take decisions as to her medical treatment’.
Whilst Patricia’s condition has deteriorated – so much so that she was taken to hospital in an ambulance last Friday – medical professionals have told the family that they were still ‘confident the damage could be reversed’.
She asked to be discharged home on Monday, and the case was brought before Mr Justice Moor again.
Mr Moor, who said that the case was ‘sad and tragic’, declared that it was in Patricia’s ‘best interests’ not to receive tube feeding and any other medical treatment which went against her wishes.
He said: ‘Of course it would be wonderful if she was prepared to accept treatment and was able to get better. But I am a realist.’
He added he wanted to give Patricia the ‘autonomy that she has craved’.
But a relative said Patricia was ‘changing her mind every five minutes’ and that she had indicated to family members she wanted help.
Patricia is the sixth eating disorder patient since 2020 who has been given the right to refuse life-saving treatment, according to the publication.
Whilst Patricia’s condition has deteriorated, medical professionals have told the family that they were still ‘confident the damage could be reversed’
A Freedom of Information request found that dozens of eating disorder patients under NHS care have similar directives to refuse life-saving care.
Experts have warned that the number of teenage girls diagnosed with eating disorders has soared by as much as 42 per cent since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Researchers found that since March 2020, diagnoses of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia were 42 per cent higher than would be expected among teenage girls aged 13-16, and 32 per cent higher for those aged 17-19.
In August, the Mail on Sunday heard from patients who say they were told they are ‘too far gone’ for treatment, with some referred to palliative care.
Hope Virgo, an eating disorder campaigner and former patient, said: ‘I’ve been contacted by people who say they are discharged because they’re too sick or not recovering fast enough, and being told there’s nothing more that can be done.
‘It’s heartbreaking. Some have been referred to palliative care. We don’t give up on patients with physical illnesses, we find different treatment methods which work for them.
‘And yet, with eating disorders, it’s still a case of one-size-fits-all. Why aren’t we setting people up to have a chance of recovery? Instead, if treatment doesn’t work, services are washing their hands of them.
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