Archie Battersbee: Family seek permission for hospice move

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Archie BattersbeeImage source, Hollie Dance
Image caption,
Archie Battersbee suffered brain damage in an incident at home on 7 April and has not regained consciousness

The family of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee have sought legal permission to move him from the Royal London Hospital to a hospice.

The High Court is now considering the application, after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused a request to delay withdrawing treatment.

Archie's mother said she wanted her son "in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye".

Doctors have warned there is "significant risk" in moving him.

Life-sustaining support, including mechanical ventilation and drug treatments, for Archie has been in place since April.

Lawyers for Archie's family took part in a legal hearing at the family division of the High Court on Thursday, with the court sitting late into the evening.

It is understood no changes will be made to his care while legal processes are ongoing and no ruling has been made public.

Care was due to be withdrawn on Wednesday but this was delayed for the ECHR to consider his family's appeal.

However, the ECHR said it "would not interfere" with the UK courts' rulings, paving the way for support to be stopped.

Image source, Hollie Dance
Image caption,
Hollie Dance says she will fight to ensure Archie has "a dignified passing at a hospice"

Afterwards, Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, said the legal battle to postpone the withdrawal of her son's life support was at "the end".

In a statement, she 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."

Ms Dance has said she wants her son "in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye and spend time with his family, uninterrupted by the noise and chaos".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Hollie Dance said the European Court of Human Rights' ruling was "another heart-breaking development"

The Christian Legal Centre, which supports the family, said the application, submitted on Thursday morning, asked for Archie to be moved to a hospice and for palliative oxygen to be given once his ventilator is removed.

Lawyers for Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, said in a letter to the family's legal team that any application to transfer Archie to a hospice would "be opposed on both a procedural basis and best interests basis".

"The trust continues to put Archie's welfare and best interests at the forefront of its decision making about his care," the letter said.

"It believes that Archie's condition is unstable and that transferring him even a short distance involves significant risk."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Archie's parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance had turned to the ECHR after several hearings in UK courts

It added the trust considered that the family were now "at the end of the procedural options open to them" and that "any further delay is not in Archie's best interests".

On that basis, it intended to withdraw Archie's treatment at 11:00 BST on Thursday unless an application over the hospice move was submitted.

A High Court order made in July requires that Archie remains at the Royal London Hospital while his treatment is withdrawn.

Archie has been rigged up to numerous machines, drips and monitors to help keep him alive.

His doctors say his condition is so unstable that even turning him in his hospital bed as part of his care is risky.

In their opinion, attempting to transfer him to a hospice by ambulance would not be in his best interests.

There is a high risk that he would deteriorate, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on board for the journey.

Archie 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.

Image source, Hollie Dance/PA Media
Image caption,
Archie's family including mum Hollie (left) and siblings Tom and Lauren Summers have been by his bedside since he was admitted to hospital in April

Timeline: How the story unfolded

Archie is found unconscious by his mother after an incident at their home in Essex. He is taken to Southend Hospital.

Archie is transferred to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel where he has been treated ever since.

The NHS trust that runs the Royal London starts High Court proceedings by asking for Archie to undergo brain stem testing.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that brain stem testing should be carried out.

Two specialists try to administer brain stem function tests, but they are unable to as Archie did not respond to a peripheral nerve stimulation test, a precursor to the brain stem test.

A hearing is held to decide if further MRI scans should be conducted. Archie's parents did not consent on the basis that moving Archie could harm him.

The court approves further MRI scans, which are carried out on 31 May.

A final hearing is held to hear evidence on whether Archie's life-support treatment should continue.

The High Court judge rules that Archie is "dead" based on MRI scan results and that treatment could be withdrawn.

Hollie Dance, Archie’s mother, outside the High Court
Image caption Hollie Dance, Archie’s mother, outside the High Court Image copyright by PA

The family ask the Court of Appeal to reconsider the case.

The Court of Appeal says that a new hearing to determine Archie's best interests should take place.

A new hearing is held in the High Court with evidence given before Mr Justice Hayden.

Mr Justice Hayden rules that life-support treatment should end, saying continuing it is "futile".

Three Court of Appeal judges support the High Court ruling that treatment can end.

The Supreme Court rules out intervening in the case and supports the Court of Appeal ruling.

The family make an application to the United Nations.

Archie’s mother and father, Paul Battersbee, outside the Royal London Hospital
Image caption Archie’s mother and father, Paul Battersbee, outside the Royal London Hospital Image copyright by PA

A UN Committee writes to the UK government asking for a delay in withdrawing treatment while they consider the case.

The government asks for an urgent hearing to review the case.

The Court of Appeal refuses to postpone withdrawal of treatment until the UN can hear the case.

The Supreme Court refuse the family's application for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal ruling.

European Court of Human Rights refuses an application from the family to postpone the withdrawal of Archie’s life support.

Archie's parents make a legal application to move their son to a hospice for end of life care.

A High Court judge rules that Archie cannot be moved to a hospice for withdrawal of treatment.

Archie passes away at the Royal London Hospital after treatment is withdrawn in line with court rulings about his best interests. Members of his family are at his bedside.

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