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Archie Battersbee: New court hearing set as boy’s family fight to keep life support going

Written by on 1 August 2022

The mother of Archie Battersbee has spoken of her “anxiety” and “heartbreak” at being “dragged through the courts” ahead of a last-minute hearing over whether life support treatment should be withdrawn for the 12-year-old.

Archie – who has been on life support since April after being found unconscious at home by his mother in Southend, Essex – was set to have treatment withdrawn at 2pm today.

But following interventions from the government and the UN a virtual Court of Appeal hearing will now take place at 11am.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, say he is brain-stem dead and continued life support treatment is not in his best interests.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which is treating Archie, has handed his mother Hollie Dance details of how medics will withdraw treatment.

Ms Dance told Sky News: “They handed the letter over on Saturday night with the choreographed execution of my son.”

She said there was “no meeting”, or sit-down with the information broken to them “gently”. Ms Dance said they were handed the letter and “just left to deal with our own feelings”.

“This could have been totally prevented and handled totally different to how it’s been handled. We shouldn’t have been dragged through the courts,” she said.

“To be dragged through the courts, no empathy, no compassion – it’s shocking. It’s not right to be treated like this. It does need looking into.”

She added: “We shouldn’t have to go outside our justice system to do the right thing by the citizens in this country.”

Undated family handout photo of Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance. A US-based doctor has told a judge asked to make decisions about the future of a boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute that he knows of cases where people diagnosed as being dead by Image: Archie and his mother Hollie Dance

Ms Dance said the last couple of months have been “an emotional rollercoaster”, telling Sky News: “It’s been very draining. Stress levels are through the roof. Very heartbreaking. It’s been a very hard few months.”

Asked about her feelings on how successful today’s hearing will be, she said: “I don’t know really. I guess because of all the court appearances and things that we’ve had now and it seems… everything, apart from obviously the appeal that we won, everything seems to go in the Trust’s favour.

“It’s just left me feeling very anxious all weekend. I’ve carried a lot of anxiety here in my chest. It just feels awful.”

The Trust’s chief medical officer Alistair Chesser previously said: “We are giving Archie’s loved ones time to come to terms with the decision of the courts that treatment should not continue and are involving them at each stage. Any further delay in starting palliative care would not be appropriate without an order of the court.”

The UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities had asked the UK government to stop Archie’s life support being withdrawn until it had the chance to review the case.

The government’s legal advisers then asked the High Court to “urgently consider” the UN request.

Ms Dance said: “We are relieved that the government has taken the UN’s intervention seriously. This was not a ‘request’ but an interim measures injunction from the UN.

“The anxiety of being told that Archie’s life support will be removed has been horrific. We are already broken and the not knowing what was going to happen next is excruciating.”

IMAGE TAKEN FROM GOFUNDME  12-year-old Archie Battersbee. A High Court judge is preparing to make decisions about the future of the 12-year-old boy who has not regained consciousness after suffering brain damage in an incident at home more than a month ago

On Saturday, Ms Dance sent a letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay urging him to help save her son’s life.

She wrote: “If this happens, this will be an extraordinary cruelty, and a flagrant breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person”.

A High Court judge had ruled that ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing evidence from clinicians.

Archie has not regained consciousness since 7 April and Ms Dance said she believes he may have been taking part in an online challenge before injuring himself.

Archie’s family argue that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

These international obligations say states must take all necessary measures to ensure disabled people enjoy equal rights and that governments should do all they can to prevent the deaths of children and young people.