What can reasonably be expected of junior doctors

FB v. Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 334, 12 May 2017, Court of Appeal – read judgment

All the advocates in this case were from 1 Crown Office Row, Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC for the claimant/appellant FB, and John Whitting QC and Alasdair Henderson for the hospital. None of them were involved in the writing of this post.

FB fell ill with meningitis when she was just one. The illness was diagnosed too late, and she suffered brain damage. This appeal was against the judge’s dismissal of the claim against the hospital, where she was seen, some time before she was admitted and the infection treated. All agreed that avoiding the time between being seen and being admitted could have led to the brain damage being avoided. 

But should the junior doctor have picked up enough about her condition to admit her?

Continue reading

The Round-Up – who’s on the Rights-side this election?

Courtroom_European_Court_of_Human_Rights_01After one leaked manifesto and many accusations of plans to bankrupt the UK, we have finally been presented with the official pledges of the main parties. Indeed, the manifestos appeared to herald good news for the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the Conservative Party have thrown a lifeline.

Continue reading

Strasbourg grapples with international surrogacy and the concept of “family”

Paradiso and Campanelli v Italy (Application no. 25358/12), 24 January 2017 – read judgment

The Strasbourg Court ruled earlier this year that the prohibition on commercial surrogacy arrangements did not justify the Italian authorities’ actions in removing a 9 month old child from its non-biological parents and taking him into social care. Although they found no right to family life applied in the circumstances, there was a right to private life which the Italian authorities had breached.

The majority judgment as well as the dissenting and partially concurring opinions summarised below reveal very different approaches to the concept of family life across the Strasbourg bench. Continue reading

The UKHRB launches new podcast stream


In a few weeks’ time we hope to have regular podcasts of our roundups and other legal news available from iTunes for subscription or one off downloads. In the meantime here’s a link to my interview with Sarah-Jane Ewart, where we’re talking about the events and cases she has covered in her most recent roundup for the UK Human Rights Blog. I’ve converted this audiofile to MP3 format so it should be easy to download onto any device and does not take up much room. We will let you know as soon as the full UK Human Rights Podcast series is launched for download onto your smartphone or wherever you like listening to audio.

 

 

 

 

Will genetically-informed medicine upend medical confidentiality?

ABC v St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and Others [2017] EWCA Civ 336 – read judgment

All the advocates in this case are from 1 Crown Office Row. Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, Henry Witcomb QC and Jim Duffy for the Appellant, and Philip Havers QC and Hannah Noyce for the Respondents. None of them were involved in the writing of this post.

In a fascinating twist to the drama of futuristic diagnosis, the Court of Appeal has allowed an argument that doctors treating a Huntington’s patient should have imparted information about his diagnosis to his pregnant daughter to go to trial.

The background to this case is outlined in my earlier post on Nicol J’s ruling in the court below. A patient with an inherited fatal disease asked his doctors not to disclose information to his daughter. The daughter came upon this information accidentally, shortly after the birth of her child, and found, after a genetic test, that she suffered from this condition as well, which has a 50% chance of appearing in the next generation. Had she known this, she would have sought a termination of the pregnancy. She claimed that the doctors were liable to her in damages for the direct effect on her health and welfare.

A claim for “wrongful birth” is well established in law; no claim was made on behalf of the child, who was too young to be tested for the condition. The twist is the duty of secrecy between doctor and patient, which has held very well for the past two centuries. Short of confessions pertaining to homicide or information regarding contagious diseases, the dialogue behind the consulting door should end there.

The problem is that the typical medical relationship only pertains to the pathology of the individual patient. Now that tests are available that make every single one of us a walking diagnosis not only for our own offspring but those of our siblings and their offspring, the one-to-one scenario collapses, along with the limited class of people to whom a doctor owes a duty of care. The pregnant daughter who came across the information about her father’s condition was not the defendant doctor’s patient. In pre-genetic days, that meant there was no duty of care relationship between her father’s doctors and her. But the certainty of hereditability brings her into that circle. Continue reading

The Round-Up: Minimum Wage, Article 6 and Housing

IN THE NEWS

Three women, including a mother and her daughter, have been charged with conspiracy and attempt in the first all-female terror plot in the UK. This accolade means it is sure to be feverishly anticipated by the press when the charges reach the Old Bailey on May 19th.

The Children’s Society is looking for evidence on the impact of LASPO (2012) on unaccompanied migrant children, and are calling for the participation of legal practitioners in a survey which can be found here. Evidence would be used in the pending review of LASPO and in a strategic litigation case intended by the Children’s Society to bring unaccompanied migrant children under the auspices of legal aid. For more information contact Dr Helen Connolly at helen.connolly@beds.ac.uk or Richard Crellin, Policy Manager at the Children’s Society at richard.crellin@childrenssociety.org.uk.

Continue reading

Purdah: Government should obey the law in the run-up to an election

NO2_Pic

R (ClientEarth) v Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Garnham J, 27 April 2017, judgment here

Last November (here) the judge decided that the UK’s air pollution plans under EU and domestic laws were not good enough.  The case has a long, and unedifying back-story of Government not doing what the law says it should do – see the depressing list of posts at the bottom of this post.

The pollutant was nitrogen dioxide, a product of vehicle exhaust fumes. And as the judge reminded us in this latest instalment, the Department for Transport’s own evidence suggests that 64 people are dying everyday as a result of this pollutant.

The particular issue might seem legally unpromising. Government wanted to delay the publication of its latest consultation proposal from 24 April 2017 (the date ordered by the judge last November) until after the Council elections on 4 May, and, then, once the general election had been called, until after 8 June 2017. It accepted that it had its report drafted, but did not want to release it.

But the only justification for the delay was Purdah.

Continue reading