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Advice and development

Passing judgement on life and death

A seminar on legal issues when people are on a life-support machine helped nursing student Duncan Hamilton understand the processes behind the difficult decisions made by judges in the Court of Protection. 
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A seminar on legal issues when people are on a life-support machine helped nursing student Duncan Hamilton understand the processes behind the difficult decisions made by judges in the Court of Protection.

I recently attended a fascinating seminar on law at the end of life, hosted by RCN legal services at the college’s headquarters in London.

Keynote speaker Sir Mark Hedley spent the latter part of his career as a judge in the Court of Protection, which rules on decisions such as the withdrawal of life support.

As nursing students, we are instructed to practise without judgement. But when a difficult decision had to be made, it was Sir Mark’s job to judge the value of a person’s quality of life.

Given that fundamental contrast, what

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