Archie Battersbee’s mother speaks of anxiety ahead of last-minute hearing

The 12-year-old is due to have life-support treatment at the Royal London Hospital in east London withdrawn at 2pm on Monday.

01 August 2022

The mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee has spoken of the anxiety she feels ahead of a last-minute hearing about whether life-support treatment should be withdrawn from her son just hours before it is due to end.

The Court of Appeal has granted a virtual hearing for 11am on Monday after the Government asked it to “urgently consider” a request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to continue his treatment so the committee can examine his case.

The youngster is due to have his life support at the Royal London Hospital in east London ended at 2pm on Monday, following a lengthy legal battle in which a High Court judge ruled this to be in his best interests.

Archie Battersbee court case
Doctors believe Archie Battersbee is brain-stem dead (Hollie Dance/PA)

The decision was later backed by the Court of Appeal and Archie’s family applied to the UN as a final attempt to prevent their son’s treatment from being stopped, with the committee contacting the Government on Friday.

A legal “stay” to prevent treatment being ended has also been put in place until 1pm on Monday.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, wrote to the family over the weekend to inform them it intends to end treatment on Monday afternoon.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said the family have had “no support whatsoever” from the Trust, telling Sky News: “Absolutely none. I know they come across to the media as supportive and compassionate. It’s very much the opposite. It’s very misleading.”

Ms Dance said she was handed a letter on Saturday night with the “choreographed execution” of Archie.

“There was no meeting, sat down and broken to gently,” she said.

Ms Dance said they were handed the letter and “just left to deal with our own feelings”.

Archie Battersbee court case
Hollie Dance said the family have had ‘no support whatsoever’ from Barts Health NHS Trust (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

She added: “It’s just caused so much stress. This could have been totally prevented and handled totally different to how it’s been handled.

“We shouldn’t have been dragged through the courts.”

Ms Dance said the last couple of months have been “an emotional rollercoaster”.

“It’s been very draining. Stress levels are through the roof. Very heart-breaking. It’s been a very hard few months.”

Looking ahead to Monday’s hearing, she said: “It’s just left me feeling very anxious all weekend. I’ve carried a lot of anxiety here in my chest. It just feels awful.”

Ms Dance said citizens should not have to go beyond the justice system for the “right thing” to be done.

Asked what she would want to see the Government doing at this stage, Ms Dance told Sky News: “Just to overlook the decision that the justice system make, really.

“We shouldn’t have to go outside our justice system to do the right thing by the citizens in this country.

“This is a 12-year-old, this is a child. They say about Archie’s best interests … I don’t believe for one minute that Archie’s best interests would be to put his parents through what we’re being put through. Our little boy wouldn’t like that.

“I think that it needs overlooking, and I’m very grateful to the Health Secretary for doing what’s he’s done, very grateful.

“I just hope that it is overlooked within the court today.”

Archie Battersbee incident
Paul Battersbee, the father of Archie Battersbee, outside court (James Manning/PA)

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said the plan to withdraw medical treatment will proceed unless the court directs otherwise on Monday.

He said: “Our deepest sympathies are with Archie’s family at this difficult time.

“We understand a court hearing will take place on Monday morning and we await the outcome.

“The plan to withdraw treatment will proceed unless the court directs otherwise.”

The trust previously said in a letter to Ms Dance and Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, that the withdrawal process will aim to “preserve Archie’s dignity”.

The trust said in the letter: “We understand that any discussions around the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment are very difficult and painful.

“However, we want to ensure that you and your family are involved as much as you wish to be.”

It added: “You or any of the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or have him in your arms, if that should be practically possible.”

Judges heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7, after she believes he took part in an online challenge.

Doctors believe Archie is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.

“The Government asked the High Court to urgently consider the request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

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