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Reported Case

Judge allows trial contact between couple in complex healthcare case - MB v PB [2022] EWCOP 14 (15 March 2022) (11 April 2022)

Date: 11/04/2022
Duncan Lewis, Reported Case Solicitors, Judge allows trial contact between couple in complex healthcare case - MB v PB [2022] EWCOP 14 (15 March 2022)

Husband allowed to meet hospitalised wife after judgment handed down in MA and P and Local Authority and Health Board.

This case is a section 16 Mental Capacity Act matter, and concerns a woman, P, who needs long term healthcare and our client, MA, who is her husband and who has restricted contact due to concerns about his behaviour.

In March 2018, P suffered a severe brain haemorrhage which caused lasting injury, and left her with impaired cognitive function, right sided weakness and spatial neglect.

She has been assessed as lacking the capacity to make decisions about her residence and care, to make decisions about contact, and conduct these proceedings. She relies entirely on others for her care.

Since April 2019, when she was discharged from hospital, she has lived in a specialist care home where she receives a significant care package that she is likely to require for the rest of her life.

From the early days of P’s admission to hospital in 2018, safeguarding concerns arose in respect of MA’s conduct towards her and there are throughout significant concerns about his combative approach to the medical professionals involved in P’s care. As a result, in February 2019, MA’s contact with P was restricted to 2 hours supervised visiting time per day. That regime was still in place when P was transferred to the care home on 15 April 2019.

On 21 April 2021, Francis J made an injunction prohibiting MA from having direct contact with P and from entering or approaching the care home and severely restricting communication with any care home staff in relation to further allegations against him.

Pursuant to the order of Francis J made on 21 April 2021, P’s husband MA has had his access to the care home and contact with P very substantially restricted.

In respect of the proceedings, our client initially challenged the standard authorisation and the contact restrictions.

MB contested the residence and contact issues initially and ultimately, sought for his wife to return home to live with him. Eventually MA recognised that it was in his wife’s best interests to remain in the care home receiving 24 hour support; however, the issue of in-person contact was to be pursued.

We sought to pursue in-person contact on behalf of our client MA.

We invited the judge to consider removing the injunction against MA, barring him from visiting her in the care home, in light of the fact that he has complied successfully with the restrictions placed upon him over the previous 6 months.

Judge Jonathan Cohen ruled that while it remained in P’s best interests to continue being cared for in the home, that loss or cessation of contact between P and MA would not be in P’s best interests.

The care home manager expressed the view that she would be content for there to be a trial of contact, face to face, between P and MA but that she was not prepared to have MA within the main building.

The judge thought this not an unreasonable requirement in the circumstances, in particular when there is what she describes as a pod available which she would be content to see used by P and MA.

While not going to so far as to make a special interests judgment, he added: “I would like consideration to be given by the parties to a trial period of contact over a number of visits whereby P’s reaction to the resumption of contact could be assessed, along with MA’s ability to comply with the restrictions required and the contract of expectations which he must sign up to.”

This was a complex, highly emotive case which required a great deal of sensitivity in its handling in order to maintain the couple’s right to a private and family life and achieve the best result possible for our client.

Our legal team: Mental health director Rachel Caswell instructing Catherine Collins at Iscoed Chambers.


Find full details of this case on Bailii’s website here.
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