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Archie Battersbee: Hospital warns moving boy to hospice may ‘hasten’ his death

The hospital in care of a brain damaged 12 year-old boy on life support has said moving him to hospice care would likely hasten the deterioration in his condition.

The family of Archie Battersbee have filed a last-minute bid to have him moved to die in a hospice, due to be heard on Thursday afternoon at the High Court.

It comes after European Human Rights Court (EHRC) rejected a final plea from the family to postpone the withdrawal of his life support.

Archie has been kept alive by ventilation and medication since he was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April.

His family has mounted a series of court applications to prevent his life support being turned off after multiple doctors agreed it was in the young boy’s best interests.

Doctors at the Royal London Hospital were preparing to switch off his life support at 11am on Wednesday, but it was postponed pending the ECHR’s decision after Ms Dance and Archie’s father Paul Battersbee made a last-minute application to the Strasbourg-based court.

The request was refused by the ECHR, which said it would not “interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from [Archie] to proceed”.

On Thursday morning, Archie’s famil made an application to the High Court to move him to hospice care.

In a statement Ms Dance 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.”

The Royal London Hospital said it understood the motivation for Archie to be moved to but that he was in such an unstable condition there is “considerable risk” in evening turning him in his bed.

The trust said any transfer by ambulance even with full intensive care equipment and staff would most likely hasten the deterioration in his condition.

It added the High Court order made on 15 July requires Archie to remain at the Royal London Hospital while treatment is withdrawn. Doctors would continue to care for Archie while there are outstanding legal issues. the trust added.

Dominic Wilkinson, professor of Medical Ethics and Consultant Neonatologist, University of Oxford, said: “If it is possible to transfer Archie to a hospice, this should certainly be arranged.

“However, based on the specialist reports about Archie’s physical condition in the court hearings, and a statement from the hospital, this will not be possible. 

Archie has been in hospital for four months

“Put simply, the risk is that Archie would die in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospice. 

“He has been able to be kept stable over this long period of time only through constant careful attention of intensive care staff.  His condition is fragile. 

“If he were to die while being transferred, that would be a potentially stressful, distressing, and undignified end to this sad and sorry saga.  It would be bad for Archie and bad for his family.”

Archie Battersbee, whose parents have fought a long legal battle over his treatment (Hollie Dance/PA)

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