The Court of Protection in England has refused a family's application under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (UK) to withdraw a patient's artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH). The patient suffered viral encephalitis in 2003 and is wholly dependent on others for her care. There was conflicting evidence about her level of consciousness, but overall the evidence was that the patient was minimally conscious rather than in a persistent vegetative state. The Court heard evidence from the patient's family that the patient would not have wanted to be kept alive in her condition, but concluded that these informal statements did not carry substantial weight. The Court also heard evidence from the patient's carers which indicated that she had a degree of responsiveness to her surroundings.
After considering all the evidence, the Court decided that the preservation of life was the decisive factor, commenting that "although her life is extremely restricted, it is not without pleasures, albeit small ones". The Court concluded that it would not be in the patient's best interests to withdraw ANH and refused the application. The Court did however find that a "Do Not Resuscitate" order should remain in place and recommended a radical review of the patient's care plan. W v M and S and A NHS Primary Care Trust  EWHC 2443