FINAL appeal in Archie Battersbee case to be heard by court in last-minute hearing
On Monday morning, August 1, a court of appeals hearing will be held in the protracted legal dispute over whether to discontinue Archie's life support. Archie Battersbee, 12, has been in a coma since April 7, when he was found unconscious with a ligature around his head.
It's understood that the virtual hearing, which starts at 11 am, will discuss a request to keep Archie alive so that the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can consider his case. The Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, has a legal moratorium on ending patient care until Monday at 1 p.m.
The hospital's operator, Barts Health NHS trust, wrote to the family over the weekend to let them know that treatment would end at 2 pm on Monday. Ministers had earlier on Sunday night asked the high court to "urgently consider" a UN request to keep Archie's life support from being turned off. The health secretary, Steve Barclay, is credited with writing the letter, which PA Media has access to. According to the statement, the CRPD has requested that the UK government hold off on stopping treatment until the case has been reviewed by the committee.
According to the letter, in light of the situation, the court should give the [UN] committee's request for temporary restraints "urgent consideration." The letter was to be "placed before the out-of-hours judge immediately" or before Mr. Justice Hayden, who had previously reviewed the case, according to the request.
According to a previous letter the committee sent to Archie's family, the government was asked to "refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from the alleged victim while the case is under consideration by the committee." The plan to withdraw medical treatment will go ahead, according to Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health, unless the court orders otherwise on August 1 in the last-minute hearing.
He said: “Our deepest sympathies are with Archie’s family at this difficult time. We understand a court hearing will take place on Monday morning, and we await the outcome. The plan to withdraw treatment will proceed unless the court directs otherwise." Barts Health informed Archie's parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, over the weekend that "all fluid infusions, medications, including vasopressin, will be stopped" at 2 pm on August 1. The child has been in the hospital since April, when Dance discovered him with a ligature around his head. Doctors at the Royal London Hospital in east London believe he is brain-dead and believe that continuing life support treatment is not in his best interests.
His family, on the other hand, has filed legal challenges to keep Archie's ventilator - a machine that helps move air in and out of the lungs - turned on and treatment going. His mother had pleaded with Barclay to "act immediately" to prevent the treatment from being terminated, calling it a "flagrant violation" of the boy's rights and urging the UN to intervene. "We understand that any discussions around the withdrawal of Archie's treatment are very difficult and painful. We want to make sure that you and your family are as involved as you want to be." said the letter from the Barts Trust.
After reviewing the evidence, a high court judge ruled that discontinuing treatment is in Archie's best interests. "If this happens, it will be extraordinary cruelty, and a flagrant violation of Archie's rights as a disabled person," Dance wrote to Barclay on Saturday. “Archie is entitled to have the decisions about his life and death, taken by the NHS and UK courts, scrutinised by an international human rights body. Hastening his death to prevent that would be completely unacceptable.”
"We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee's family, and our thoughts are with them," a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said. "The government asked the Supreme Court to consider the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' request urgently."