A 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage is set to have his support treatment ended on Monday, despite his mother’s pleas to the Government.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which is caring for Archie Battersbee, said in a letter to his parents that “all fluid infusions, medications, including vasopressin will be stopped” at 2pm on August 1.
It comes after Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, urged the Health Secretary to “act immediately” to stop the treatment ending, saying it would be “a flagrant breach” of his rights.
The letter, sent over the weekend, read: “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.”
Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, the youngster’s parents, will be told on Monday morning how the withdrawal process is to be performed, with the aim to “preserve Archie’s dignity”, the letter read.
It went on: “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.”
A High Court judge had ruled that ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing evidence.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn that ruling and Supreme Court justices have refused to intervene.
Archie’s parents are being supported by campaign organisation, the Christian Legal Centre.
Writing to Health Secretary Stephen Barclay on Saturday, Ms Dance said: “If this happens, this will be an extraordinary cruelty, and a flagrant breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.
“Archie is entitled to have the decisions about his life and death, taken by the NHS and UK courts, to be scrutinised by an international human rights body. Hastening his death to prevent that would be completely unacceptable.
“I trust that you will now act immediately, as a member of the Government responsible for the NHS, to ensure that this does not happen, and our country honours its obligations under the international human rights treaties which we have signed and ratified.”
They have also asked the United Nations to intervene in a “last-ditch” application.
The UN Committee On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities has written to Archie’s parents and legal team saying it had “requested the state party [the UK] to refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from the alleged victim while the case is under consideration by the committee”.
It added: “This request does not imply that any decision has been reached on the substance of the matter under consideration.”
The family said stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under international human rights law.
Archie’s parents have asked hospital bosses to continue treatment until the UN has considered the case.
Judges in London have heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
She thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
The youngster has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that “further delay” in starting to provide “palliative care” to Archie would “not be appropriate” without a court order.
In response the family accused Mr Chesser of making “misleading” assertions.
In a statement issued by the Legal Centre, they said: “We as a family are very disappointed that the trust’s management has chosen to hide behind euphemisms and to mislead the public.
“It is hard to see any reason for that behaviour except knowing that what they are doing is cruel and wrong.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.
“We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”