Friday, August 5, 2022

Parents have until 9 a.m. for hospice care or life support to end

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A hospital has given Archie Battersbee’s parents until 9am on Thursday to table a High Court offer to place him in hospice or his life support will be switched off at 11am.

It comes after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rejected a request by Archie’s parents to delay his removal from life support.

Archie, 12, has been kept alive on ventilation and medication since he was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex on April 7.

His mother Hollie Dance believes he may have attempted an online challenge when he suffered brain damage.

Doctors were preparing to turn off his life support at 11am on Wednesday, but it was postponed pending the ECtHR’s decision after Ms Dance and Archie’s father Paul Battersbee made a last-minute application to the court in Strasbourg at 9am.

In a series of challenges in Britain’s highest courts, the parents sought to overrule the decision of doctors at the Royal London Hospital, who said Archie was “most likely” brain dead and it was in his best interests to end life.

But just after 6.30pm Wednesday, the ECtHR said it had rejected the parents’ application, adding that it “would not intervene in the decisions of national courts to allow the withdrawal of life support treatment.” [Archie] Continue”.

Now Barts Health NHS Trust has said treatment will end at 11am on Thursday 4 August unless the family petition the High Court by 9am that day to move him to a hospice. Treatment will continue while an appeal is heard in court, it said.

A spokeswoman for Archie Battersbee’s family said: “We find it completely barbaric and absolutely disgusting that we are not even allowed to choose where Archie spends his final moments.

“Hospices are well and truly designed for palliative care and respite care. Archie is obviously in palliative care now, so there’s no reason for him not to spend his final moments in a hospice. The hospice said they will take him in.”

The Trust said: “Any application will be denied on both a procedural and best interest basis.”

It added that it “continues to put Archie’s welfare and best interests at the forefront of its decision-making about his care.

“Archie’s condition is believed to be unstable and the transfer, even over a short distance, is believed to be at significant risk.”

Earlier, following the ECtHR ruling, Ms Dance suggested, speaking to reporters outside the Royal London Hospital, that Archie’s life support case was over.

She said she will “not allow” anything to happen to Archie before his father returns to his bedside at the hospital on Thursday and vowed to “fight” to get her son placed in a hospice.

Asked if this defeat made her feel any different, Ms Dance said: “It’s the end, it was the last, wasn’t it, and again our country has failed a 12-year-old child.”

In a previous statement, she called the decision “another heartbreaking development.”

In a statement, she said: “The NHS, the Government and the courts in this country and in Europe may have given up treating him – but we haven’t.

“The whole system was stacked against us. Reform needs to come through Charlie’s Law now so no parents have to go through it.

“The worst case scenario we want to do is put Archie in a hospice but the hospital has said we cannot do that despite prior commitments.

“We’ve been told all along that this is all about Archie dying with dignity. However, we have been told that we cannot take him to a hospice where it is quiet and we can spend time with him as a family without the chaos of the hospital. We will fight for Archie’s right to life to the end.”

Ms Dance also reiterated that she had been contacted by doctors in Japan and Italy regarding her son’s condition, adding: “Why can’t we give him a chance?”

Archie’s family’s application to the ECHR came after the Court of Appeal ruled that Archie’s treatment should not continue beyond Tuesday noon.

The Supreme Court upheld its decision the same day, with judges saying they have “great sympathy” for Archie’s parents but there was “no prospect of a meaningful recovery”.

Archie’s parents had petitioned the Supreme Court directly – after the appeals court had rejected it.

They are urging the UK’s highest court to continue its hearing so the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has time to consider the appeal lodged last week.

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