Archie Battersbee’s mother says she felt ‘backed into corner’ by court system

Archie died on August 6 in the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after weeks of legal wrangling.

18 August 2022

The mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, who died after being taken off life support, has said she felt “backed into a corner” by the British legal system.

Hollie Dance said her family felt “stripped” of rights after Barts NHS Health Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, took the case to court.

“I feel we were stripped of all our rights and backed into a corner by the system and, I’ve explained before, it felt like we were on trial,” she told the BBC.

Archie died on August 6 in the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after weeks of legal wrangling.

Archie Battersbee court case
Hollie Dance (Aaron Chown/PA)

He had been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7 and was being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

Doctors treating him for the four months leading up to Archie’s death declared him to be “brain-stem dead”, prompting a lengthy legal battle by his family to continue his life support treatment in the hope he would recover.

Judges sided with the hospital in a series of court hearings.

Ms Dance, 46, told the BBC that the experience “drained” her, and made her “anxious all the time”.

“I felt exhausted, it was an emotional rollercoaster,” she added.

Ms Dance also said Archie’s last moments in the hospital were “awful”, but that she had no regrets about challenging the decision.

She said: “If I had to go through it again, I would still fight equally as hard for Archie or any of my children. It was awful, there was so much stress on everyone involved, it’s heart breaking.”

“Change is needed,” she said. “As if it’s not a traumatic time enough, you’re faced with fighting the system… I wasn’t prepared to do that, we were backed into a corner. It was the hospital that took us to court, not the other way round.”

She added: “It was hard, stressful and unnecessary, we need change.”

Ms Dance said she has been “taking each hour as it comes” since Archie’s death.

“It was my daughter’s 21st birthday yesterday… no-one really feels in a celebrating mood,” she said.

Following Archie’s death, Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said that “treatment was withdrawn in line with court rulings about his best interests”.

He added: “Members of his family were present at the bedside and our thoughts and heartfelt condolences remain with them at this difficult time.

“The trust would like to thank the medical, nursing and support staff in the paediatric intensive care department who looked after Archie following his awful accident.

“They provided high quality care with extraordinary compassion over several months in often trying and distressing circumstances.

“This tragic case not only affected the family and his carers but touched the hearts of many across the country.”

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