Thursday, 26 February 2009

Airedale NHS Trust v Bland

In 1991 there was a disaster at Hillsborough football ground during the F.A. cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

96 people died as a result. The Taylor Report found that the deaths were caused by a failure of police control when they opened a gate to allow thousands of fans into an already-full terrace. Fans were crushed against the fences at the front of the terrace, which had been put there to prevent hooliganism.

One of the victims of this tragedy was Anthony Bland, who sustained severe crush injuries including crushed ribs and two punctured lungs, leaving him in a persistent vegetative state. He was 18 at the time. Although he could not see, hear or feel anything, his brain was still functioning. The doctors were of the opinion that Anthony would not recover.

The doctors , together with Anthony's parents, applied to court for a ruling that the doctors would not be guilty of murder if they stopped feeding him.

This was a new situation, which required the judges to create an original precedent. The judges reasoned by analogy. They decided that the feeding tube was effectively medical treatment which was no longer working. They confirmed that they would not find the doctors guilty if they stopped this "treatment".

You can read the full judgment in this case here.
Have a look at the Hillsborough Justice Campaign site too.


  1. LORD GOFF OF CHIEVELEY,part made my mind up ,one of the most experince staff members stated it was the worse case he had ever seen and also the fact that Bland had any thought process or sneses left -Jake Cheetham

  2. I believe that what was decided was not right and this new precedent should not have been passed to find the doctors NOT guilty because moral,ethical and religious views/opinions are brought into place and a vast majority of religions,ethnic groups and societies consider this as murder or indirect manslaughter. At the end of the day, his brain was still working and he wasnt completely "dead" in his state of living and many religions believe that disabilities etc are a blessing of God.

  3. Even at the beginning of the judgement of Anthony Bland's case, it is apparent of how serious his injuries were. In my own opinion, the correct decision was made. I feel that due to the "vegetative state" Bland was in simply keeping him alive with no chance of a good life would have been agonizing not only for Mr Bland himself but for his parents to watch. Although not dead it was evident that Bland's personality had "departed forever".

    Also due to the medical opinion that he would never fully recover, or even the likelihood of improving (at that time) his present state, i personally think it would only be fair to Bland himself and his parents to turn off his life support machine.

    I can however see why many people would disagree and think the court made the wrong decision, perhaps due to religious reasons or the fact that his brain was still functioning. Yet it was stated in the judgement that Bland could not feel "nothing at all", that in itself eases the decision his parents would of had to made to back up the case and support it, nobody wants to see their love ones suffering

    Nicole McCrann

  4. I believe that this decision was the right decision, the reason i believe this is because Mr Bland would remain in a "vegetative state" meaning he would never physically live his life but it was still providing false hope for his family for something that was never going to happen. The doctors could do nothing more to improve Mr Blands state which resulted in the decision that was made. There are many people that disagree with my opinion due to the very strong ethical issues invloved with this case. Hopefully Mr Blands family are at peace with the decision that was made.

  5. I believe that this decision was correct because there was nothing that the doctors could do for Mr Bland and he would have just stayed in a 'vegetative state' for the rest of his life. I understand however why this case was so important on ethical issues as it was doctors taking the decision to end a patient's life and the judges had to make the decision whether this was lawful or not, in a sense making the law.
    In this case the doctors had no other option but to stop treatment as there was no chance of improvement from the patient and keeping him alive was more inhumane than withdrawing treatment due to the effects on his family etc.


  6. In this case of Airedale NHS Trust V bland, In my opinion I believe that this decision was the way to solve the problem, as it was evident that Mr Bland is suffering alot and is in permanent "Vegetative" state and I feel it would be the most the most loving thing to do. But there are many other people who would strongly disagree with my opinion because due to ethical reasons. However, there could be a drawback to this situation because it is stated that this is a new situation for the Judges to create an original precedent as they could make a wrong decision if they are not careful.

  7. I believe this was the right decision as he was in a persistant vegative state and the medical help he was recieving was not working anymore. I feel that the doctors could not do no more and had no other option but to stop the medical treatment. Although this case was significant to ethnical issues, the judges made the decision to whether it was lawful or not.


  8. Of course it is the right decision!
    It even said during the report that he had no value of life. When something like this happens people call it murder to turn off machine etc, but it's murder to keep them alive. The fact he had also suffered extreme amounts of damage to the cognitive part of his brain which disables functions which include his senses (sight, ability to hear, touch) so he would of been in a state of nothingness.
    Aaron Sherratt

  9. This is an important case as the doctors had to decide on what to do with the patient. I think that this was the right thing to do because the doctors could not do anything to make him better. Due to the ethnical issues only, the judges made their decisions on whether this case was lawful or not.


  10. Even tough many issues are touched eg. Ethical i believe the doctors made the right decision, as doctors carry out their jobs in the best intrest of us and they know medically greater than the natural being, even if others may see different.

    On the other hand many have miraculously recovered from life support machines and continued to live a healthy life which could have occured in this case.

  11. People may not have wanted this judgement to be passed in order to save Anthony Blands life. However, is life without quality really life at all? Anthony couldn't hear, see or feel anything. Of course he was still technically alive, but everything that made Anthony the person he was had gone.
    I believe this judgement was correct, as doctors stopping feeding would not have been the cause of Anthonys death. The cause would be the extended effects of the Hillsborough Disaster.

  12. I don't think that the decision was the right one because its morally wrong. It wouldn't be accepted in many religions because it is equivalent to murder. Its up to God when he wants to take someones live, not the judges.


  13. I do not believe it was the right decision, because i don’t think its right to let the doctors decide whether to turn off the life support or not, because that makes them questionable, should they have the power to let someone die or save them, keep them alive. They have a duty of care to their patients to keep them alive and well, to the best of their ability. It should be up to the family, if the life support machine should be turned off or not. Religiously it would most likely never be turned off, but they would rather see them alive then dead, am sure. There are also ethical issues and moral issues that would back what I am saying to an extent.

    So I believe that it was be wrong in the case Airedale NHS Trust v Bland to switch of the life support machine because it should have been up to the family not the doctors or the courts because they have no right to take a life and play god. so the doctors who acted on the decesion and carried out the procedure are to me questionable to manslaughter or murder.

    Mohammed Ali Hanif

  14. I do believe the judge made a correct decision by deciding the doctors were not guilty for retracting the effective medical treatment.The treatment was prolonged and could of been used in more severe situations.
    The judge was also correct for creating an original precent to depict the effectiveness and consistency of the english legal system.Although,this contradict the separation of powers , in this occasion it was appropriate.

    Kabibi .xo

  15. I think the decision was clearly right and was the moral thing to do as his family were supporting them aswell. As the doctors could not do anything to help him, the situation was not pleasnt for anyone involved. However this could lead to spiteful families commiting murder.



Please keep comments appropriate and sensible! Thanks.