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21 OCT 2005

MEDICAL TREATMENT: Portsmouth NHS Trust v Wyatt [2005] EWHC 2293 (Fam)

(Family Division; Hedley J; 21 October 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 652

The duty of a clinician was towards the patient and, where the patient was not competent to make her own decisions, to act in the patient's best interests. The clinician treating a child did not take orders from the family any more than he gave them; he acted in what he saw as the best interests of the child. In acting in the best interests of the child, parental wishes should be accommodated as far as professional judgment and conscience would permit but no further. A doctor could not be required to act contrary to his conscience. Where a clinician concluded that a requested treatment was inimical to the best interests of the patient, and his professional conscience, intuition or hunch, confirmed that view, he might refuse to act and could not be compelled to do so, though he should not prevent another from so acting, should another clinician feel able to do so. See March [2006] Fam Law for a case report and comment.

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