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Archie Battersbee: Family petitions EU court in battle to move boy to hospice

Written by Javed Iqbal

The family of Archie Battersbee are going to the European Court of Human Rights to try to have him moved to a hospice to die after they lost their latest legal bid in the UK courts.

His family has been told that his life-sustaining treatment will be withdrawn from 10 on Saturday, according to campaign group Christian Concern, which supports them.

But health chiefs say no changes will be made to Archie’s care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved.

Archie’s parents are challenging a High Court decision made on Friday morning which concluded it was not in the 12-year-old’s best interests for him to be moved before his life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn.

His parents then appealed to the Court of Appeal the High Court decision – but on Friday night the judges refused them permission to appeal.

The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother at their home in Southend, Essex, in April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at Det Kgl. London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London.

His mother, Hollie Dance, believes he took part in an online challenge that left him catastrophically ill.

On Wednesday, the couple’s protracted legal battles to extend his life ended when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene to stop the discontinuation of the treatment.

The family’s focus then shifted to trying to have their son moved to a hospicebut Ms Justice Theis of the High Court concluded on Friday that it was not in Archie’s best interests to be moved.

Doctors said Archie was in such a serious condition that he was moved to a hospice had a “significant risk” he could die during the journey, the high court was told.

Judge Theis said on Friday that he should remain in hospital while his life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn, because of the risks associated with a transfer and “the increasing fragility of his medical condition”, Archie should remain in hospital when his treatment is withdrawn.

“The circumstances outlined by Dr F regarding the physical arrangements at the hospital and the arrangements that can be made will ensure that Archie’s best interests remain at the heart of the final arrangements to enable him to die peacefully and privately in the arms of his family .loved,” Ms. Theis said.

Doctors who have treated the schoolboy for the past four months declared Archie “brain stem dead” but his family kept his life going in the hope he could recover.

But the judges who heard the application concluded that Judge Theis’ decisions were correct.

“It follows that the proposed appeal has no prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to entertain an appeal,” they said.

The appeal judges also said one of the arguments presented by Archie’s parents was legally flawed, adding: “It is also not easy to understand as it seeks to argue that Archie’s best interests have ceased to be relevant.”

After The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the application to delay any change to his treatment, Ms Dance said she wanted her son to “spend his last moments” with his family in private.

She told Times Radio they would have no privacy in the hospital, adding: “We can’t even have the chance to be in a room together as a family without nurses.”

Archie Battersbee’s parents have fought a protracted legal battle over the withdrawal of his treatment (Hollie Dance/PA)

(Average PA)

She said: “There is absolutely no privacy and so the courts are once again continuing with this dignified death – why are we not allowed to take our child into hospice and spend his last moments, his last days together in private?”

Barts Health NHS Trust said Archie’s condition was too unstable for a transfer and moving him by ambulance to another setting “would most likely hasten the premature deterioration the family want to avoid, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on the journey”.

A High Court order handed down last month requires Archie to remain at the Royal London Hospital while his treatment is withdrawn.

A spokeswoman for the family said a hospice had agreed to take him, adding: “Hospices are well and truly designed for palliative care and respite care.

“Archie is now obviously on palliative care, so there is absolutely no reason for him not to spend his final moments in a hospice.”

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Javed Iqbal

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