An MP has asked Health Secretary Steve Barclay to discuss the case of a 12-year-old boy who died after being at the centre of a High Court life-support treatment fight.
Anna Firth, Conservative MP for Southend West, said she wants to raise concerns about Archie Battersbee’s case.
She that she has asked Mr Barclay if he will meet her and Archie’s mum, Hollie Dance, who lives in Southend, Essex.
Mrs Firth said she had witnessed the case from start to finish.
Archie Battersbee Hollie Dance
“The state process for dealing with the withdrawal of life support for a child where there is a dispute between the parents and the hospital is just not appropriate,” she said.
“As a society I think we can do better.”
She added: “I have now formally written, on behalf of Hollie, to the Health Secretary, requesting a meeting to discuss Archie’s case.”
Ms Dance has also written to Mr Barclay, asking for a meeting, and said she wants a “public inquiry” into the “operation of this system” and a “change of the law”.
A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London ruled in July that doctors could lawfully stop providing life-support treatment for Archie, who suffered brain damage in an incident at home in Southend in April.
Archie died recently after his mum and dad Paul Battersbee, failed in bids to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling.
Ms Dance had earlier said she felt “backed into a corner” by the legal system and that her family felt “stripped” of their rights.
Judges heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
Anna Firth UK Parliament
She thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
The youngster did not regain consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought he was brain-stem dead and said continued life-support treatment was 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.
He ruled after a further hearing that ending treatment would be in Archie’s best interests.
Mrs Firth said: “I accompanied Hollie and her family to court in April when they were summonsed with less than 12 hours’ notice, and only three weeks since his accident.
“To me, this was inappropriate and unduly hasty – no time to prepare, no time to process and, most importantly, no appropriate legal representation when they needed it.”
She added: “Although this situation was rectified by the next court hearing, to start the court proceedings in this way is wrong. The parents need a level playing field from the outset. This is basic legal levelling up.”
The MP went on: “Any decision about removing a child from life-support should, ideally, be made with, not to, those who love them dearly.
“Compassion, communication and mediation must be at the core of the process and, critically, sufficient time to process the tragedy they have been through.
“Dragging them through courts and legal processes with courts and NHS Trusts, especially without equal legal representation at the very start, automatically creates an adversarial relationship between the parents and those caring for their child.”