Anorexic woman wins High Court battle in Belfast

The High Court in Belfast
The High Court in Belfast

A High Court judge has quashed a decision to send an anorexic woman from Northern Ireland for treatment in England against her wishes.

Even though he praised medical professionals for acting in her best interests, on Friday Mr Justice Maguire said his order was based on issues around the fairness of the process.

It will now be left up to the Department of Health to decide if it should take fresh steps to have her transferred.

Counsel for the woman, who cannot be identified, told the court: “She will obviously be delighted with the outcome.”

She had issued judicial review proceedings in a bid to stop being moved to a specialist eating disorder unit in London.

Now aged in her forties, the woman has suffered from anorexia nervosa for more than 20 years and is currently being detained under mental health legislation.

The court heard her condition is so serious that efforts were centred on improving her quality of life and reducing the risk of sudden death.

During the challenge Mr Justice Maguire questioned whether the Department had complied with relevant guidelines.

They include a general rule that the consultant from the receiving clinic comes to see the patient. No such visit took place.

Counsel for the Department, David Sharpe, accepted there was no explanation for the non-attendance, but argued that exceptions applied.

Resuming the case on Friday, Mr Sharpe confirmed his consent to the granting of an order quashing the decision and for legal costs to be awarded to the applicant.