Woman in ‘chilling’ situation refusing nutrition, court hears

Judge permits order allowing feeding of patient with serious mental health issues

A woman with serious mental and physical health issues is in a "critical" condition in hospital and is refusing medication and nutrition, the High Court has heard.

High Court president Ms Justice Mary Irvine said on Thursday the evidence concerning the woman's situation was "chilling".

Aged in her 30s, the woman has said her life was “in God’s hands”, she did not have a mental illness and had been admitted to hospital as part of God’s plan to expose problems with mental health services. She said she decided not to eat since March 7th because of issues she had with the nature of those services and that she wanted a non-medical facility to heal the soul.

The woman was previously diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and had some involuntary admissions to a psychiatric facility some years ago followed by a long period of stability.


She was made subject of another involuntary admission last January after gardaí found her in a dangerous situation on a motorway. The involuntary admission has been extended.

The clinical team treating her believe her physical health has been adversely affected by her psychiatric beliefs and delusions.

Her case came before the court via an emergency application by the HSE late on Friday, in the context of intended wardship proceedings based on medical opinion she lacks capacity to make decision concerning her medical treatment.

Doctors say she will need urgent medical intervention if she continues to refuse nutrition and medication and she has a health condition that needs investigation and impacts on the ability to administer certain medications to her.

Orders were made permitting doctors to carry out assessments and to administer various treatments as they considered necessary.

When the case returned before Ms Justice Irvine on Thursday, Barry O’Donnell SC, for the HSE, said the woman’s physical health had deteriorated on Wednesday and her situation remains “critical”.

Counsel asked that the various orders should be continued.

That application was supported by the woman’s guardian on the basis that the women’s fixed beliefs and refusal to accept medication and nutrition are endangering her life.

The judge said she was satisfied on the evidence to continue the orders which permit, inter alia, naso-gastric feeding and transfer to intensive care, and returned the matter to next week.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times