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Court of appeal case highlights the need for leadership on end-of-life decision making

The Court of Appeal is currently investigating the case of Mrs Janet Tracey where it is alleged that doctors acted unlawfully by placing a ‘do not resuscitate’ (DNR) order on her records without consultation. The appeal has heard calls for the Government to issue national guidance on the implementation of DNRs.

Whilst the facts of the case are still in dispute, Dignity in Dying and Compassion in Dying welcome any initiative which promotes patients’ views being heard and respected in relation to decisions on end-of-life care and treatment.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying and Compassion in Dying, said:

“This case highlights why it is of the upmost importance that people discuss their end of life wishes. This includes having access to information on treatments such as CPR, so as to make an informed decision while the patient still has capacity. The Court of Appeal case is of particular concern if potentially life-sustaining treatment was withheld without the knowledge of a patient’s loved ones.

“Compassion in Dying runs an information line to inform people of their end of life rights and provides free Advance Decisions allowing a patient to state what treatment they would and would not want at the end of life if they have lost capacity. In fact many people who contact us state they would want to refuse CPR in specific situations and it is vital that people are made aware that this is a legally binding option if they have strong views about it.

“We hope that the court’s decision will assist in promoting discussion about these issues, and informing people about their rights.”


For all media enquires please contact Compassion in Dying Press Support Officer Michael Charouneau on 02074797732 or

Compassion in Dying
Compassion in Dying is a national charity (no. 1120203) that aims to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their legal rights and choices.  We are a leading provider of free Advance Decisions in the UK and we also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care.

Compassion in Dying is the sister organisation of Dignity in Dying and was set up to help people exercise their rights and choices under the current law.

Dignity in Dying

Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life including the option of assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults within strict legal safeguards. Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

For more information on Compassion in Dying visit

For more information on Dignity in Dying visit

The End-of-Life Rights Information Line
The End-of-Life Rights Information Line is available on freephone 0800 999 2434, or by emailing or writing to Information Line, Compassion in Dying, 181 Oxford Street, London W1D 2JT.  The phone-line is open between 11am and 3pm Monday to Friday.

Advance Decisions
An Advance Decision is a document that allows individuals to set out their wishes and preferences for medical treatment in advance, in the event that they become unable to communicate with their health team (for example, if they fall into a coma or develop dementia).  Advance Decisions were given statutory force under the Mental Capacity Act, 2005 (in October 2007) meaning the refusal of treatment is legally binding.  The Compassion in Dying Advance Decision is fully compliant with the Mental Capacity Act.

Free Advance Decisions are available by calling the Information Line or to download from

Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legaldocument that gives one of more trusted persons the legal power to make decisions about your health and welfare if you lose the capacity to do so yourself.  An LPA cannot be used until is it registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.  LPAscan make decisions for you when you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself, including the withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment.