Tameside and Glossop Acute Services Trust v CH (a patient) [1996] 1 FLR 762 (QBD)

Consent – medical treatment – capacity – best interests – s63 Mental Health Act – pregnancy

The Court granted a declaration that doctors attending a pregnant woman detained under s3 Mental Health Act 1983 might use reasonable restraint to enable them to administer medication while performing a caesarean section. The woman suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was at times incapable of making a balanced and rational decision about her treatment. Tests carried out at the 38th week of her pregnancy indicated that unless labour was induced very shortly the foetus was likely to die in utero, but the patient was delusional and believed that the medical staff were a threat to her child.

The Court found that woman satisfied the test in >Re C (Adult Patient: refusal of treatment), in that she failed to comprehend, believe and weigh the information about the prospective treatment, in particular in her delusional belief that the medical staff wished to harm her and the baby. The medical evidence was clear that it was in the best interests of the patient for her to give birth to a live child and achievement of a successful pregnancy was a necessary part of the treatment for her psychiatric condition. The proposed treatment was within the broad interpretation of s63 of the 1983 Act and her consent was therefore not necessary.

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