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Case Law on Artificial Nutrition and Hydration Since Bland
  1. Dr Martin JR Curtice
  1. Dr Martin JR Curtice, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, Birmingham. Email: mjrc68{at}


The legal basis and principles for the lawful withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) from people in a persistent vegetative state (now termed permanent vegetative state), was laid out in the case of Anthony Bland, who sustained catastrophic and irreversible brain damage as a result of being crushed during the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989. Anthony Bland was medically diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery or improvement. Since the Bland case the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Human Rights Act 1998 have been introduced and must be considered in all such cases. This article provides an update of the legal basis for the withdrawal of ANH from people in a permanent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state. In this regard, it analyses the cases of Re C [2010] and W vs M & Ors [2011]. Analysis of these cases demonstrates the decision-making process and current legal basis for the lawful withdrawal or withholding of ANH from people in a permanent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Artificial nutrition and hydration
  • Best interests
  • Human rights
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Minimally conscious state
  • Permanent vegetative state

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