The mother of a 12-year-old boy left in a coma after suffering brain damage has written an urgent appeal to the government, with supportive treatment due to end on Monday afternoon.
In a letter sent on Saturday, Hollie Dance urged the Health Secretary to “act immediately” to prevent her son Archie Battersbee’s treatment from being terminated.
The Barts Health NHS Trust, which cares for Archie, is believed to be moving forward with plans to end support at 2pm on Monday.
Writing to Stephen Barclay, Dance said: “If this happens it will be extraordinary cruelty and a gross violation of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.
“Archie has the right to have the decisions about his life and death taken by the NHS and UK courts reviewed by an international human rights body. Hastening his death to prevent this would be totally unacceptable.
“I am confident that you will now act immediately, as a member of responsible government in the NHS, to ensure that this does not happen and that our country honors its obligations under the international human rights treaties that we have signed and ratified.”
A High Court judge ruled that ending treatment was in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing the evidence.
Dance and Paul Battersbee, Archie’s parents, who are estranged but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade the Court of Appeal judges to overturn that decision and the Justices of the Court Supreme refused to intervene.
Archie’s parents are supported by campaign organization Christian Legal Centre.
They asked the United Nations to intervene in a “last resort” request.
The UN Disability Rights Committee wrote to Archie’s parents and their legal team saying it had “asked the state party [the UK] to refrain from withholding life-saving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from the alleged victim while the case is under review by the committee”.
He added: “This request does not imply that a decision has been made on the merits of the matter under consideration.”
The family said stopping the treatment would breach the UK’s obligations under international human rights law.
Archie’s parents have asked hospital bosses to continue treatment until the UN reviews the case.
London judges heard Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
She thinks he may have participated in an online challenge.
He did not regain consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believe he is brain dead and say continuing life-sustaining treatment is not in his interest.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that a “further delay” in starting to provide “palliative care” to Archie would be “not appropriate” without a court order.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We recognize that 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 to it in due course.”