An NHS trust boss says staff are giving relatives of a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage time to “come to terms” with a judge’s ruling that life support treatment should end.
But Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that “further delay” in starting to provide “palliative care” to Archie Battersbee would “not be appropriate” without a court order.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, have asked the United Nations to intervene.
We are giving Archie's loved ones time come to terms with the decision of the courts that treatment should not continue and are involving them in each stage
Alistair Chesser, Barts Health NHS Trust
They say they have made a “last-ditch” application to a UN Committee after losing life-support treatment fights in London courts.
A family spokesman said they wanted the UN Committee On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities to consider the youngster’s case.
He said a UN official had written acknowledging the request.
Mr Chesser said staff had the “deepest sympathies” for Archie’s family.
“We are giving Archie’s loved ones time come to terms with the decision of the courts that treatment should not continue and are involving them in each stage,” he said, in a statement.
“Any further delay in starting palliative care would not be appropriate without an order of the court.”
A High Court judge has ruled that ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing evidence.
The youngster’s parents, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn that ruling and Supreme Court justices have refused to intervene.
Archie’s parents are being supported by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre.
A spokesman for the centre announced its latest move and said it had made a “last-ditch application”.
“Archie’s parents want the UN committee to consider Archie’s case, arguing it has a protocol that allows ‘individuals and families’ to make complaints about violations of disabled people’s rights,” said the spokesman.
“The family argue that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles … of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and under an Article of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.”
Archie’s parents have asked hospital bosses to continue treatment until the UN has considered the case.
Judges have heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
She thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
The youngster has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.
Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions on what medical moves were in Archie’s best interests.
A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case and concluded that Archie was dead.
But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by his parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed by a different High Court judge, Mr Justice Hayden.
Archie’s parents released a letter they had received from a UN official in Geneva following their application.
The letter said there had been a request for the “State party” to “refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment” while the case was “under consideration by the committee”.
It said the request did “not imply that any decision has been reached on the substance of the matter under consideration”.