Cancer patient forced by judge to have surgery

A cancer patient is to be forced to undergo life-saving treatment against her wishes after a landmark ruling by a judge.

Doctors will be allowed forcibly to sedate the 55-year-old woman in her home and take her to hospital for surgery. She could be forced to remain on a ward afterwards.

The case has sparked an intense ethical and legal debate. Experts questioned whether lawyers and doctors should be able to override the wishes of patients and whether force was ever justified in providing medical care.

Treatment was ordered by Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division, in the Court of Protection, after surgeons at the woman’s local hospital applied for permission to force the surgery on her. They argued that without it, advanced cancer of the uterus would kill her.

Sir Nicholas agreed because the woman, who has learning difficulties, was deemed incapable of making a rational decision about the operation.

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