BY ADAM FRESCO, The Times of London
A terminally ill man won a legal battle yesterday for the right to die at home after a health authority agreed to fund his nursing care. Lawyers for Jason Powell, who has multiple sclerosis and pneumonia and has only a few months to live, challenged Dyfed Powys Health Authority’s refusal to fund home care as a breach of his human rights.
Mr Powell, 33, who is currently an in-patient at West Wales General Hospital, Camarthen, was last month given permission to seek judicial review of the health authority”s decision to fund only a place in a nursing home.
The case was due to be heard in the High Court in London on Monday, but solicitors announced yesterday that the authority has agreed to fund 24-hour home care for Mr Powell.
Katrina Salter, his solicitor, said: “We feel thereâs been total vindication of Jason bringing these proceedings. He’s terminally ill and has been told that he is unlikely to live beyond Christmas so it’s very, very important that there’s no further delay in this and he’s allowed to go home.” It’s exactly what he wanted and he’s very, very pleased.”
Last month Jenni Richards, for Mr Powell, told a judge that Mr Powell had lived with his condition since he was 17 but, because of his determination, had managed to stay in his own adapted accommodation for the past few years.
“He is terrified at the prospect of going to a nursing home. He won’t go into a nursing home and cannot be forced to do so. Therefore the reality is that he will live out his last months in a hospital bed.”
Ms Richards said that it was “inappropriate and unnecessary” for him to remain in hospital. The refusal to fund a home-care package breached his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing respect for an individualâs right to a private and family life, she said.
Mr Powell’s mother, Eileen Olive, 55, of Whitland, said that she was delighted with the change of heart. “We are over the moon. We are so grateful. This was Jason’s last wish to come home.
“He will have his friends, family and neighbours around him. It is marvellous. He has been depressed about the fight, but determined to fight on. This was our last chance and I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t worked out,” she said.