Two bishops have written to British Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock expressing their concern over the removal of life support from a Catholic man in Plymouth.
Following a court ruling in early January, food and water have been withdrawn from a Polish-man and long-time UK resident, who went into a coma after suffering a heart attack in November last year.
In the letter, Sherrington and O’Toole opposed the definition of “assisted nutrition and hydration as medical treatment”.
It has “now become the basis of medical and legal decisions to withdraw assisted nutrition and hydration from patients”, they continued.
“Providing food and water to very sick patients, even by assisted means is a basic level of care”.
“The recent court cases concerning patient Mr RS in the care of the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust,” they wrote, “has shown the level of controversy around this definition as judges have been called to make decisions in the ‘best interests’ of the patient.
“This care must be given whenever possible unless it is medically indicated as being overly burdensome or failing to attain its purpose.”
The pair wrote to Hancock after the president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Stanislaw Gadecki, asked for Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, to intervene.
“On his behalf, we write to express our opposition to this definition of medical treatment and to convey the offer of the Polish authorities to assist in the transfer of Mr RS to Poland for his future care.”
The Catholic Herald reached out to the Department of Health and Social Care. They are yet to comment.
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