Over the last three weeks, we have been representing the family of Laura Booth at an inquest into her death. The Coroner has concluded, after hearing a great deal of evidence, that Laura did not receive adequate nutrition during her time in hospital, attempts to commence alternative feeding options were delayed and this led to her being malnourished. The Coroner concluded that these failures should be considered as neglect and therefore made a finding that neglect and poor nutrition contributed to Laura's death. Laura's family have raised concerns since Laura's death in October 2016 and the Coroner's findings now formally recognise the veracity of their concerns.

One of the key concerns raised by the Coroner, of which she is going to provide a report to seek to prevent future deaths, is the use of appropriate best interest decision making for those who lack capacity. The Coroner found that the decision making in Laura's case was not in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and was therefore unlawful.  As part of this failure, there was not proper involvement of Laura or her parents, who were her dedicated carers and who knew more than anyone about her, in discussion of treatment options, which is not the correct approach.

The Coroner has also proposed that she, with some assistance from the family, write to the Chief Coroner in order to seek to improve understanding amongst Coroners of issues related to mental capacity, to ensure there is sufficient knowledge of such issues that they can apply to their own work.

This is a very sad case and I am incredibly sorry for the loss that Laura's parents have experienced. I do hope, however, that the Coroner's vindication of their concerns and the identification of some lessons and actions that have been prompted by Laura's death can lead to some positive change in the future.

Please see further detail here.