The issue in this case is whether it is lawful for the doctors treating Mr B, a 73‐year‐old gentleman with a severely infected leg, to amputate his foot against his wishes in order to save his life.
Without the operation, the inevitable outcome is that he would shortly die, quite possibly within a few days. If he has the operation, he may live for a few years.
Mr B also has a long‐standing mental illness that deprived him of the capacity to make the decision for himself. The judge decided that the operation could only be lawfully performed if it is in his best interests and concluded that it wasn't.
This ruling has far reaching implications for NHS trusts and attorneys in general when considering what medical treatment an individual should be given when that individual is opposed to the treatment.
Care must be taken to obtain the patients views and due consideration must be given to those wishes regardless of the ultimate implications. The patients wishes and views should not be given less weight simply because they are suffering from a mental condition.
The Court of Protection has made clear that the wishes and feelings of a person lacking capacity should not automatically be given less weight than those of other people because of the incapacity, even where the person's views are influenced by the condition that gives rise to the incapacity. Peter Jackson J discussed the issue in detail before concluding that it was not in the best interests of an elderly man with a mental illness to undergo a life-saving amputation to which he was strongly opposed. (Wye Valley NHS Trust v B  EWCOP 60.)