The Centre for Health, Law, and Society, and the Centre for Ethics in Medicine have been awarded a major Wellcome Trust Collaborative award for a cross-disciplinary project exploring the best interests of patients in medical ethics and law.
Led by Professor Richard Huxtable, the project team comprises Dr Jonathan Ives and Dr Giles Birchley from the Centre for Ethics in Medicine (CEM) and Dr Judy Laing and Dr Sheelagh McGuinness from the Centre for Health, Law and Society (CHLS).
This project substantially builds on work between the CEM and the CHLS, and it will be supported by a broad multi-disciplinary team of researchers, patients and professionals from Bristol and beyond.
The £1.5 million grant will fund a 5-year programme of work, across four distinct workstreams, and includes PhD studentships, a visiting fellow scheme, and a programme of public engagement work.
The project builds on previous work conducted by both centres, including during a Wellcome Trust-funded Seed project, awarded to Prof. Huxtable, which explored legal rulings concerning patients in the minimally conscious state and cryonics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the project about?
The project explores healthcare decisions that are made in the “best interests” of patients who are unable to make decisions for themselves because they lack (what the law calls) mental capacity or competence.
The patients include children – as poignantly illustrated in the recent, widely-publicised legal case of Charlie Gard – and adults, including those with learning disabilities, dementia or prolonged disorders of consciousness. BABEL asks how the “best interests” of such patients should be understood – which factors and values should be considered, who should be involved, and indeed whether “‘best interests” is even the best approach.
What are the four workstreams?
The project comprises four workstreams. Workstream 1, led by Prof. Richard Huxtable, will focus on best interests in health care ethics and clinical practice. Workstream 2, led by Dr Judy Laing, will focus on best interests in health care law. Workstream 3, led by Dr Jonathan Ives, will focus on developing methodology, impact and public engagement. Workstream 4, led by Dr Sheelagh McGuinness and Prof Richard Huxtable, will manage the PhD studentships and visiting fellows scheme and extend the work beyond Bristol.
Will you be advertising positions?
We are not currently advertising for any positions on BABEL.
How do I become a visiting fellow?
Details on this process will be posted here in due course.
How do I apply to do a PhD with the project?
Applications for BABEL PhDs are closed as of 4th April 2019.
I am a healthcare professional or member of the public, how do I get involved?
Once work begins on the project, we will build a group of public and professional advisors who will help inform our research and our public engagement activities. Please check the site regularly for updates on how to get involved.