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05th Aug 2022

Archie Battersbee’s parents lose right to move him to hospice care to die

Steve Hopkins

Archie’s family has battled all week to continue his life-support

Archie Battersbee’s family have lost a High Court bid to move him to hospice care to die.

The 12-year-old’s mother, Hollie Dance, had wanted her brain-damaged son to “spend his last moments” together with family privately, after several high-profile attempts to prolong his care were rejected this week.

After the the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused an application from Archie’s parents to delay any changes to his treatment on Wednesday, Archie’s family conceded its legal battle to prolong his care had concluded.

They then made an application to the High Court on Thursday to move Archie, who had been on life-support since April, into hospice care so he could die “with dignity”. They had until 9am  Thursday to make an application, with his life support due to be turned off at 11am that day.

The High Court rejected the application on Friday morning.

Archie’s family are now challenging that decision at the Court of Appeal and a stay on the withdrawal of treatment is in place until 2pm today, so allow time for the appeal to be lodged.

Doctors had warned there was a “considerable risk” in moving Archie.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital where Archie is being kept alive, told the court that his condition is too unstable for him to be transferred. They argued that moving him to a hospice via ambulance “would most likely hasten the premature deterioration the family wish to avoid, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on the journey”.

The latest application by Dance and Paul Battersbee, meant Archie’s life support was not switched off on Thursday.

In a statement before the decision, Dance, said: “I pray that the High Court will do the right thing.

“If they refuse permission for us to take him to a hospice and for him to receive palliative oxygen it will simply be inhumane and nothing about Archie’s ‘dignity'”.

She added: “What is dignified in dying in a busy hospital room full of noise with the door open, people coming in and out continuously, when Archie could be in a very peaceful garden with squirrels and wildlife running around to have his life support withdrawn there.”

Archie has been in a coma since being found unconscious by his mother at their home in Southend, Essex. Dance believes her son may have been taking part in the dangerous “blackout” social media craze, where people choke themselves until they pass out.

The youngster’s life support had been due to be withdrawn on Wednesday but was delayed for the ECHR to consider his family’s appeal. The ECHR said it “would not interfere” with the UK courts’ rulings. That ruling came after the Supreme Court in the UK also rejected a plea from the family.

An earlier intervention from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) to keep Archie alive was also rejected this week.

A legal stay on the termination of treatment at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, was initially extended to 1pm on Monday, and then to 12pm on Tuesday so that hearing could take place.

When that failed, the court allowed Archie’s parents time to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court, who turned down their request on Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday, ministers asked the high court to “urgently consider” the UN’s request.

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