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Professor of Healthcare Law in the Durham Law School+44 (0) 191 33 42829
Professor of Healthcare Law in the Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing 


Professor Cave publishes widely in the field of Medical Law, which she teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her chief research focus is on understanding and shaping the ambits of patient choice. The seventh edition of her co-authored book (with Professor Margaret Brazier and Professor Rob Heywood) Medicine, Patients and the Law was published in 2023 and her 2004 monograph The Mother of All Crimes on criminalisation of the child born alive was reissued in 2018.

Current appointments include

Professor Cave chaired the General Medical Council's Good Medical Practice Advisory Forum in 2022-23, co-convened the Medical Ethics Expert Group of the Infected Blood Inquiry from 2019-2022 and served as a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority 2018-2021 where she was Deputy Chair of the Statutory Approvals Committee. She has contributed to professional guidance on Genetic Testing in Childhood  and involvement of the police following abortion.

Professor Cave's recent research projects focus on medical treatment of critically ill children, the adequacy of ethical advice in the COVID-19 pandemic (funded by the British Academy) and the implications of the Supreme Court judgment Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] on informed consent (funded by the ESRC IAA). She was awarded a Scottish Parliament Academic Fellowship in 2018 to produce a Scottish Parliament Information Centre Briefing on information disclosure.

She served on the University Ethics Advisory Committee 2017-2020, the University Research Committee from 2016-2018, and as Deputy Dean (Research) to the Law School from 2014-2018.

Research Supervision

Professor Cave would be pleased to hear from potential students interested in researching legal and ethical issues relating to compulsion, consent and medical treatment of children and young people. 

Her most recent PhD students research/ed capacity and anorexia nervosa (ESRC funded), the best interests test (AHRC funded) and informed consent to abortion (AHRC funded). Please read the information here and contact her to arrange for advice on your draft proposal.

Research interests

  • Health law
  • Particularly consent, capacity and compulsion

Esteem Indicators

  • 2024: Chair of Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Group on Stem Cell-Based Embryo Models: The Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCOB) has started a rapid review project to assess and advise on the ethical and regulatory issues raised by research using human stem cell-based embryo models
  • 2023: Member of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry Ethics Advisory Group: The UK Covid-19 Inquiry has announced the creation of an independent Ethics Advisory Group to ensure its UK-wide listening exercise, Every Story Matters, maintains the highest ethical standards. The Group, with expertise in social research ethics and practice, provides an independent review of the design and approach of Every Story Matters and is chaired by David Archard, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast.
  • 2022: Core member of the Health and Social Care Committee's Expert Panel: The Health and Social Care Committee is a Select Committee of the House of Commons. It has established an Expert Panel to support its work by issuing independent evaluations on specific areas such as Digital Transformation in the NHS (2022) and Pharmacy Services (2023). I am one of the core members, appointed in 2022. For each evaluation additional members with specific expertise join the panel.
  • 2021: Chair of the General Medical Council's Good Medical Practice Advisory Forum: The GMC is the independent regulator for medical professionals. The GMC's core guidance, Good Medical Practice, sets out the standards of patient care and professional behaviour expected of all medical professionals registered with the GMC. GMP was last reviewed in 2013. To help the GMC review GMP, an advisory forum was set up comprising 12 experts from outside of the GMC. We met several times over the review period to guide the GMC on specific aspects of the review. A public consultation was held in 2022 and then the new guidance was published in 2023, coming into force in 2024.
  • 2021: Member of the Cass Review Assurance Group: The Independent review of gender identity services for children and young people (Cass Review) is chaired by Dr Hilary Cass. The aim of the Cass Review is to ensure that children and young people who are questioning their gender identity or experiencing gender dysphoria, and who need support from the NHS, receive a high standard of care that meets their needs and is safe, holistic and effective. The Assurance group was established to provide expert advice and challenge about the approach and processes used to conduct the review, and to ensure that the Review is conducted in accordance with its terms of reference. The Assurance Group is strictly focused on the governance of the Review and has not been established to inform the outcome and recommendations.
  • 2020: Co-Convenor of Medical Ethics Group report to the Infected Blood Inquiry: The Infected Blood Inquiry is an independent public statutory Inquiry established to examine the circumstances in which men, women and children treated by national Health Services in the United Kingdom were given infected blood and infected blood products, in particular since 1970. The 130 pp Medical Ethics expert report was published in April 2020. It discusses the ethical principles that should govern and inform clinical decision-making. It was commissioned primarily to inform the Inquiry’s questioning of clinicians in future hearings. The report is based on letters of instruction given to the Group by the Inquiry which had input from core participants. Many of the questions and responses relate to general medical ethics and are not necessarily specific to issues of infected blood and blood products, hepatitis, HIV or blood and bleeding disorders.
  • 2018: Member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Deputy Chair of the Statutory Approvals Committee: The HFEA is the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos. A world-class expert organisation in the fertility sector, the HFEA was the first statutory body of this type in the world. The Statutory Approvals Committee decides what conditions can be tested for using a type of embryo screening called Pre-implantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGT-M) and considers applications for mitochondrial donation treatment and Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) tissue typing. It also issues ‘special directions’, which are rules we can issue to clinics to govern how they import or export sperm, eggs, or embryos or use a new fertility treatment or technique.
  • 2017: Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority:
  • 2013: Member of the Society of Legal Scholars:
  • 2013: Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing:


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)


Supervision students