Meaning of “nearest relative”
489.The nearest relative of a patient is identified in accordance with section 254.
490.Subsection (2) lists the persons who may be the nearest relative. This list should be read along with subsections (7) and (8) which explain the entries at paragraphs (b) and (j). The patient’s spouse is disregarded for these purposes where the couple are separated or there is a continuing desertion (subsection (3)). Similarly disregarded, are those under 16 years old and, where a patient is ordinarily resident in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, relatives living elsewhere. Subsection (6) provides that half-relations are generally treated in the same way as whole relations (so, for example, a half-sister is included in paragraph (e) of subsection (2)) and a step-child is treated as a child.
491.Where, in relation to a patient, only one person falls within the list, that person is the nearest relative (see subsection (1)).
492.Where, however, two or more persons fall within the list, the nearest relative is, ordinarily, the person who appears in the first paragraph in the list (e.g. where the person has a spouse and a child, the named person would be the spouse). Where two or more persons fall within the first paragraph of the list, subsection (4) determines which of them is the nearest relative.