THE General Medical Council today began an appeal over a High Court ruling hailed as a breakthrough for the rights of terminally-ill patients.
Leslie Burke, 44, has a degenerative brain condition and last July won the right to stop doctors withdrawing treatment.
Mr Burke, of Mardale Road, Newton Estate, Lancaster, feared that his wish to go on living until he dies naturally could be over-ridden under current GMC guidelines.
Mr Justice Munby said that although the bulk of the guidelines were in place to reassure patients and relatives, he took issue with them "in a limited number of respects".
He then and ruled parts of them unlawful.
Mr Burke's lawyers said the judgement was a shift in the balance of power away from the doctor to the patient and from the medical profession to the courts.
The GMC had argued that the guidance had been misinterpreted and there was no reason for the court to intervene.
Its lawyers had said that there was nothing which would permit or encourage doctors to withhold food and water contrary to Mr Burke's expressed wishes.
Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, said at the time that the High Court ruling provided "genuine protection for disabled people with serious long-term conditions".
Mr Burke, who suffers from cerebellar ataxia, had feared reaching the point where, unable to communicate, he would be denied food and water and would take two to three weeks to die of starvation or thirst.