Archie Battersbee: ruling on hospice move expected on Friday

A ruling on whether 12-year-old Archie Battersbee can be moved from hospital to a hospice to die is expected at the high court on Friday morning.

Lawyers for the boy’s family took part in an hours-long legal hearing on Thursday, with the court in London sitting until late in the evening.

His loved ones have pledged to “fight to the end” with their last-minute bid to have him transferred to die in a hospice “with dignity”.

Doctors treating the schoolboy for the last four months declared Archie to be “brain-stem dead”, prompting a lengthy but ultimately failed legal battle by his family to continue his life support treatment in the hope he would recover.

The child has been in a coma since he was found unconscious at his home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

His mother, Hollie Dance, believes he was taking part in an online challenge at the time he became ill. He has not regained consciousness since.

Dance said she wanted her son to “spend his last moments” with family privately, complaining of a lack of privacy at the hospital.

In a statement earlier on Thursday, 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’. We will fight to the end for Archie’s right to live.”

She told Times Radio: “The courts keep going on about this dignified death – why aren’t we allowed to take our child to a hospice and spend his last moments, his last days, together privately?”

Barts Health NHS trust, which runs the hospital, has said his condition is too unstable for a transfer and that moving him by ambulance to a different setting “would most likely hasten the premature deterioration the family wish to avoid, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on the journey”.

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The attorney general, Suella Braverman, said the case was “incredibly heartbreaking” but said parents had sufficient legal rights and the courts would have looked at the issues “incredibly thoroughly”.

She told Sky News: “I must just put on record my deepest sympathies for the family of Archie Battersbee. I cannot begin to imagine what he and his family have been going through.”

She added: “I think generally, yes, parents do have sufficient rights. The legal presumption is that parents are acting in the best interest of their children until or unless proved otherwise. These [cases] are not straightforward. They’re highly, highly complex matters involving detailed issues of medicine, and medical ethics, as well as the child’s welfare.

“And I have confidence that our courts and our judges will have looked at these issues incredibly thoroughly, incredibly sensitively, and have reached the right decision.”

PA Media contributed to this article