Woman with learning difficulties will be forcibly checked for possible cancer, judge rules

Woman aged 53 is frightened of hospitals and will be sedated

Social Affairs Correspondent

A woman with severe learning difficulties who has refused to undergo medical examinations for a possible cancer of the uterus will be sedated and forcibly treated, a High Court judge ruled today.

Mr Justice Moylan took less than an hour to decide the case in the Court of Protection this morning. The woman, known only as K to protect her identity, is 53 and lives in a residential home the north west of England.

For the last year she has been suffering from abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, which could be associated with cancer of the womb. In December, her GP found a lump which could be cancerous, and in recent months she has lost weight.

But the woman is so frightened of hospitals that when she was eventually persuaded to attend an appointment with a gynaecologist earlier this year, she refused to be examined.

Mr Justice Molyan said: "I'm satisfied by the evidence that K does lack capacity to take decisions about medical treatment."

He later added: "Though the risk of cancer is relatively low, it is still, in my assessment, a significant risk and recently K has lost weight, which could be a further indication of cancer.

"Having regard to the weight of the medical evidence which has been attained in the case, and is all to the same effect, I'm satisfied that it is in K's best interests for her to undergo the treatment proposed by the NHS trust as set out in the care plan and I make a declaration to that effect."

Ultrasound would normally be the first investigation of someone with her symptoms, but the judge accepted doctors' advice to go straight to a hysteroscopy - a more detailed but invasive examination - because her distress at hospitals would mean she needed to be under a general anaesthetic anyway.

Describing the difficulties hospitals had in treating her, Mr Justice Molyan said: "K was unwilling to undergo further treatment as she is reluctant to go to hospital with a long-standing fear of hospitals, but an appointment was made and she attended. Once in hospital she had to wait for her appointment which caused her to become anxious. The treating gynaecologist managed to persuade K to go to the examination room but she then declined to permit the examination."

The Official Solicitor, acting for the patient, agreed that it was in her best interests for the treatment to go ahead, even without her consent. Her brother was also supportive of the idea and offered to go with her to hospital.

The case was brought by her local NHS trust, who wanted to agree a way to go ahead with formal diagnostic examinations.

Aswini Weereratne, representing the Official Solicitor, said they did "not consider there are any less restrictive steps to facilitate" K's treatment.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence