Report No. 196
(17) Re L (Medical Treatment: Gillick Competency), 1998(2) FLR 810 (Sir Stephen Brown J) (10th June 1998).
A 14 year old girl was in a life threatening condition. She rejected medical treatment involving the possibility of a blood transfusion to which, because she was a Jehovah's witness, she would not consent. She had sincere convictions and was mature for her age. The surgeon made it clear to her that he was in no doubt that the blood transfusion was necessary to save her life. The girl had not been made aware of the actual manner of death. The surgeon, however, informed the Court that she would suffer a horrible death. The hospital authority sought leave of Court to administer blood transfusion without her consent. The issue was whether she was Gillick competent?
It was held by Stephen Brown J, granting permission for blood transfusio.- without her consen.- that though the child's religious views may not be discussed by the Court still, there was a distinction between 'a view' of this kind and the "constructive formulation of an opinion" which occurred with adult experience; this had not happened in this child's case. It must not be overlooked that she was still a child. Also she had a sheltered life, largely influenced by the Jehovah's witness congregation.
This necessarily limited her understanding of matters which were grave. She was not given all the information which it would be right and appropriate to have in her mind while deciding whether or not she could give consent. She was not 'Gillick Competent'. Re R (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment): 1991(4) All ER 177 (CA). The Court had, therefore, to decide what was in her best interests, as on the facts, it was not only in her best interests but absolutely vital, that she received the treatment despite her lack of consent.
Per Curiam: it will be appropriate to authorise treating without her consent even if the child were 'Gillick Competent' because this was an extreme case and she was in a grave condition.