High Court amends order for ward of court allowing girl remain at home, judge highlights need for psychological supports – 2019vol2#11

The President of the High Court acceded to an application to amend an order where a young girl, who suffered from an eating disorder and had previously been made a ward of court to permit medical treatment, was allowed to remain at home. However, the amended order permitted admissions to hospital if her weight dropped to a certain level, to allow for any treatment required. The President said that he wanted concerns in respect of community psychological supports addressed as the young girl had been absent from school for two years.

The President of the High Court made an order under section 27 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 prohibiting the identification of the young girl as a person suffering with a medical condition.

The court was told that the matter was last before the court on in April 2019 and there had been a number of developments since then. The report of the doctor outlined that by April a period of extended leave was being provided to the young girl and there had been no adverse issues for a number of months, to such an extent that it was intended to make an application to get the orders discharged. However, the court was told that subsequent events meant that admission was required if there was a drop from 95% of the weight to height ratio of the young girl. The court was told that the doctors wanted to maintain progress rather than re-institutionalise the ward.

The court was told that the treating doctor was seeking an amendment to the order that would provide for the possibility of occasional admissions as deemed necessary, but otherwise allowing treatment to be looked after by the community child and adult mental health scheme (CAMHS).

Judge: “What you are looking for is a continuation of the current regime at home but if there is a drop of weight the ability to have an order for re-admission.”

The court was told by the parents that while she was at home there was a belief that the psychological supports were not sufficient for the help she required. However, “notwithstanding all of that [there is] a great improvement”.

Judge: “The psychological services appear to be a big deficit when trying to get back into school life when there has been an absence for two years. She lives with the risk of her reverting back. I wouldn’t like to see the good progress made jeopardised.”

The judge said that he was satisfied to make the order sought but that if there was a certain weight loss to allow for her to go back in to the hospital with the legal entitlement to treat her appropriately. The judge said that having heard from the young girl’s parents that there was a substantial need for a boost in the community psychological supports and that he wanted those concerns addressed.

Judge: “I will make the order in the form of the draft that permits she remain at home but if a particularly weight is recorded she will be removed back to hospital. That aspect [is for] further review on the first Wednesday in March with liberty to apply.”

The President said to the parents that he would be delighted to meet the young girl in open court or in chambers.

Judge: “If you want to, I’m perfectly open to that and I’m used to seeing people with her condition in chambers. Notify the solicitor of that fact and we can put arrangements in place.”