Tests decision due in life support treatment case involving 12-year-old boy

Specialists treating Archie Battersbee at the Royal London Hospital think it ‘highly likely’ he is dead and say life-support treatment should end.

25 May 2022

A High Court judge is considering whether a 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute should undergo further testing before a decision is made about what moves are in his best interests.

Doctors treating Archie Battersbee at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think it “highly likely” he is dead and say life-support treatment should end.

Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, from Southend, Essex, disagree.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, who is overseeing Archie’s case at private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London, is scheduled to decide whether doctors should continue treating him after overseeing a final hearing on June 6 and 7.

Archie Battersbee
Archie Battersbee (Hollie Dance/PA)

Lawyers representing hospital bosses asked her, at the latest hearing on Wednesday, to consider whether more tests should carried out before the final hearing.

The judge indicated she would make a decision about whether more tests were needed at a further hearing on Friday.

A barrister leading a legal team representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, told the judge on Wednesday how specialists thought Archie had been “extensively investigated”, but were prepared to carry out further tests for “the sake of no stone being left unturned”.

However, Fiona Paterson said it was “imperative” the final hearing take place as planned.

“Whether Archie is still alive or not, it is imperative that this hearing goes ahead,” she told the judge.

Hollie Dance, the mother of Archie Battersbee
Hollie Dance (James Manning/PA)

“If Archie is no longer with us, there is the issue of dignity.

“The more it is put off, the more his dignity is potentially compromised.”

The judge has heard that Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April.

Miss Dance has told how she found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

The youngster has not regained consciousness.

Paul Battersbee
Paul Battersbee (James Manning/PA)

One specialist told the judge on Wednesday how he thought scans showed that Archie had suffered “irretrievable” brain damage.

Two others said they thought tests showed that the youngster was “brain-stem dead”.

Archie’s family have asked the judge to visit the youngster in hospital before deciding whether treatment should end.

The judge indicated that she might see Archie on Friday.

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