Common law right to life does not entail right to medical treatment


Re: R (A) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] EWHC 2815 (Admin)

The Claimant, who resided in England without leave to remain, sought judicial review of the lawfulness of the NHS Blood and Transplant (England) Directions 2005. The Directions prioritise organ transplantation by reference to ordinary residence in the United Kingdom. By reference to his immigration status the claimant fell under Group 2 of the Directions, which meant he could not receive an organ for which there is a clinically suitable person in Group 1. He argued that in practice, this meant that he would never be offered a kidney or a kidney of such quality that successful transplantation will follow.  The Court held that the Directions were not ultra vires the National Health Service Act 2006. The Court noted, inter alia, that the common law right to life did not entail a right to medical treatment to save life, and thus there were no fundamental rights under common law which were overridden by the Directions.

Helen Mountfield QC and Sarah Hannett were involved in this case.