Judgment concerning the best interests of an expectant mother with severe agoraphobia who does not have capacity to make decisions about the location of the birth.
Holman J agrees with the expert witnesses and OS that the mother lacks capacity to make decisions about the location of the birth because her “agoraphobia is so overwhelming that it exerts a significant effect on her ability to weigh matters in the balance if the activity in point entails her leaving her home”. He then goes on to consider her best interests and using East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust v. GH  EWCOP 18 as a guide he comments that that
“case illustrates, in my view, the need to anticipate problems of this kind and to face up to them as best one can in advance, even if that involves speculation and/or reliance upon statistics.”
In considering the mother’s best interests Holman J concludes that she should go into hospital for a planned delivery as she may refuse to leave home during the birth. He also considers the issue of reasonable use of force and at  sets out what the forms of restraint the health authority proposes to use and at  declares that he is
“on balance, satisfied, albeit in disagreement with the Official Solicitor, that it will be in the overall best interests of this mother if - if the necessity for it arises on the day - some trained and professional force and restraint are used to transport her to hospital”
though he admits that this is an ‘unattractive scenario’.
However in the Postscript it transpired that the mother went into labour at home and gave birth in hospital where no restraint was required.
Read the full judgment on Bailii.
Case summaries on every Court of Protection case & other relevant decisions with links to the full judgment where available.
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