Retired nurse at centre of life-support dispute dies following ruling by judge

An elderly widow who was at the centre of a dispute in a specialist court has died following a life-support ruling by a judge.

Family members were at odds over whether retired nurse Jillian Rushton, who had suffered a head injury and been left with brain damage, should continue to be fed by artificial means.

Mr Justice Hayden concluded Mrs Rushton, who was in her 80s and lived near Carlisle, Cumbria, should be allowed to die.

The judge had analysed evidence at a trial in the Court of Protection, where issues about people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves are considered, in London in late December.

He has now published a written ruling on the case, in which he says Mrs Rushton has died.

The judge had barred journalists from revealing Mrs Rushton’s identity in media reports when she was alive.

But he has named her in his ruling and says she can now be named in media reports.

Bosses at NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group had begun litigation and asked for a decision about Mrs Rushton’s future.

Barrister Bridget Dolan QC, who led the health authority legal team, said Mrs Rushton had been left incapacitated after suffering a head injury three years ago.

Mr Justice Hayden heard how one of Mrs Rushton’s sons wanted feeding to continue.

Other family members disagreed and said she should be allowed to die.

The judge concluded Mrs Rushton was in a vegetative state and would not have wanted to carry on living.

He was told a year before she suffered the injury she had written down what she would like to happen if she collapsed.

She had said she would not want to be resuscitated.

The judge had ruled she should be moved to a hospice and given only palliative care.

One relative told the judge how in her youth Mrs Rushton had been a “something of a stunner”.

The judge heard the family had a photograph in which she apparently looked like actress Audrey Hepburn.

He was told Mrs Rushton’s husband Donald, a former pathologist, had died more than a decade ago.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Ansell / PA Wire.