Archie Battersbee: Legal battle at the end, says mum

The mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee has said the legal battle to postpone the withdrawal of her son’s life support was at “the end”.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused an application from the boy’s parents to delay any changes to his treatment.

Life-sustaining treatment for Archie has been in place since April and was due to be withdrawn earlier.

The ECHR said it “would not interfere” with the UK courts’ rulings.

The family had applied to the ECHR after an appeal against the decision to end treatment was refused by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said the court’s decision to refuse their application was “another heart-breaking development”.

The family have now said they want to file an application to the High Court to transfer Archie to a hospice.

They claim Barts Health NHS Trust has told them life support will be withdrawn at 11:00 BST on Thursday unless an application over the hospice move is submitted by 09:00.

A spokeswoman for Archie Battersbee’s family said: “We think it is completely barbaric and absolutely disgusting that we’re not even allowed to choose where Archie takes his last moments.

“The hospice has said that they will take him.”

Speaking outside the Royal London Hospital earlier, where Archie has been cared for since April, Ms Dance said it was now “the end”.

“It was the last thing, wasn’t it? And again our country has failed a 12-year-old child,” she said.

Barts NHS Health Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, said changes to Archie’s treatment would not be made until legal issues were resolved.

The 12-year-old was found unconscious at home in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, on 7 April. His mother believed he may have been taking part in an online challenge at the time.

Doctors had previously said it was “highly likely” he was brain-stem dead, with no chance of recovery and it was in his best interest for life support to end.

A High Court judge said earlier that continuing treatment was “futile”.

The ECHR ruling on Wednesday said it would not grant an interim measure to continue treatment and declared Archie’s parents’ complaints “inadmissible”.

The court would only grant such requests “on an exceptional basis” and “when the applicants would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm”, it added.

‘Dignified passing’

Archie’s parents had argued the plan to withdraw treatment and ignore the concerns of a UN committee would breach a range of human rights safeguards, including right to life and right to a fair trial or hearing.

But the ECHR said it “considered the conditions of admissibility…were not fulfilled”.

Later, Ms Dance said: “We’ve now got a fight to see whether we can get him out of here to have a dignified passing at a hospice.”

She added she “won’t allow” anything to be done before Archie’s father returned to his son’s bedside at the hospital, which she said would be on Thursday morning.

Barts NHS Health Trust said there was “considerable risk” in moving him from the hospital bed and any transfer from the hospital would “hasten the premature deterioration” of Archie.

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family and we aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time.

“As directed by the courts, we will work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment, but we will make no changes to Archie’s care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved.”

Court of Appeal judges had previously ruled Archie’s life-sustaining treatment should not continue beyond 12:00 on Tuesday.

But this was delayed while the Supreme Court heard an appeal application from his parents.

The family had asked that court to assess whether more time should be given for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilitiesto look at the case.

But it said the Court of Appeal had “made the correct decision”.

A previous High Court ruling heard “every bodily function [of Archie’s] is now maintained by artificial means”, while another heard he had not “regained awareness at any time”.