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Judge criticises consultant concerned about how doctors are treating his daughter at Welsh health board

14 Sep 2022 4 minute read
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

A judge has told a senior doctor who raised concern about the way his daughter is being treated by specialists that he is “interfering”.

Consultant anaesthetist Conrad Wareham and his wife Erica, a retired nurse, outlined worries about the way their 34-year-old daughter Laura Wareham – who has mental and physical health problems – was being cared for by specialists working for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which is based in Bangor, Gwynedd.

He told a judge overseeing a hearing in the Court of Protection on Wednesday that they were worried about “interventions” planned by specialists and said the “organisation as a whole” had demonstrated it did not have the capacity to manage his daughter’s condition.


Mr Justice Francis made no criticism of specialists or the board, but said Dr and Mrs Wareham had been “interfering” with Miss Wareham’s treatment in a way that was “detrimental”.

He said the medical team treating Miss Wareham, who comes from Sheffield and is being cared for at a specialist unit run by the board, was entitled to treat her in the way it thought she should be treated.

Another judge had earlier criticised the board after considering a different case, involving a man in his 40s, at another Court of Protection hearing.

Mr Justice Hayden said the man’s needs had been “substantially unaddressed”, “unacknowledged”, “unidentified” and “neglected”.

He said “so much” had gone wrong” and spoke of “substantial and alarming failures”.

Judges overseeing Court of Protection hearings consider issues relating to people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Mr Justice Francis and Mr Justice Hayden are based in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Justice Francis approved treatment planned by specialists caring for Miss Wareham at Wednesday’s hearing, after lawyers representing the board had asked him to consider the case.

Dr Wareham, who is a specialist in the care of critically ill patients, had questioned doctors’ plans for his daughter.

Deeply concerned

“We are deeply concerned about of a lot of the interventions you are suggesting here,” he said when questioning a specialist.

“They have been tried before and they had adverse consequences for Laura.”

He added: “The organisation as a whole have demonstrated that they don’t have the capacity to manage Laura’s condition.”

Mr Justice Francis told the hearing that no parent could imagine the “horror” Dr and Mrs Wareham were going through and said he had no doubt they wanted to do everything possible to assist their daughter.

But he suggested their approach was not helping.

“They have been interfering with Laura’s treatment in a way that is detrimental to Laura,” he said.

“I would ask (Dr Wareham) to sit back and reflect whether his medical knowledge is helping Laura, or whether it is hindering her medical treatment.

“This medical team is entitled to treat their patient in the way they think she should be treated.”


Mrs Wareham had raised concerns about her daughter’s care at an earlier hearing in August, overseen by a different judge.

“They are treating her as if it is all psychiatric,” she told Mr Justice Cobb. “It is not psychiatric.

“All they have tried to do is cover up their mistakes and lie.

“Laura is not safe there – she never will be safe there.”

Judges normally bar patients at the centre of Court of Protection proceedings from being identified in media reports, and Mr Justice Cobb made such a reporting restriction order at the hearing in August.

But Mr Justice Francis relaxed the order on Wednesday after a journalist argued that the public had a right to know that Miss Wareham’s father was a consultant and her mother a retired nurse.

Neither Miss Wareham’s parents nor trust bosses objected to names being revealed in media reports.

Mr Justice Francis said reports must not identify any hospital where Miss Wareham was being treated or any medics involved in her treatment.

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