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Mother speaks about being left in "emotional limbo"

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A family whose daughter spent several years in a vegetative state following an overdose have said it should be easier to withdraw nutrition from patients in this condition.

Jodie Simpson, from Cumbria, had taken tablets in August 2012 and was rushed to intensive care.

Although she survived the ordeal, the overdose left the 38-year-old with irreversible brain damage.

After 10 weeks in hospital, Jodie was moved to a nursing home, where she was unable to breathe unaided and had to be fed through a tube in her stomach.

While medics said she showed no signs of consciousness, she was regularly plagued by seizures and the family said she would on occasions grimace.

“We were tormented,” said Jodie’s mum Jean. “They say she wasn’t. But she looked it.

“We were in limbo for nearly four years, emotional limbo, grieving, permanently grieving, but not knowing when the end was coming. And every time my daughter had a bad patch, you were hoping that she would pass away. You were praying for it.”

The family said it took several years to assess Jodie’s condition and there was another delay before their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) made an application to the Court of Protection to remove the feeding tube.

Finally, the Judge, Mr Justice Hayden, gave a judgment that doctors should withhold nutrition and hydration.

“I have found it difficult to understand entirely why this process has taken quite as long as it has. Given that, ultimately, all the parties have been able to agree on the way forward, I have not been required to investigate the reasons,” he said.

“It needs to be stated that the avoidance of delay in medical treatment cases is an important imperative, as I have now said in a number of judgments.”

Three weeks after the judgment was published in May, Jodie was moved to a hospice and passed away.

At Lester Morrill, our specialist Court of Protection solicitors are experienced in working with vulnerable individuals and their families, friends and care teams to ensure the best possible outcome. We currently manage cases involving private clients, solicitors, local authorities, referrals from the court and case managers. We also advise on matters relating to health and welfare, receiving referrals from family members and advocates. Please contact our team for further information.

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