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Archie Battersbee’s mother seeks meeting with Health Secretary to discuss system

Hollie Dance, mother of Archie Battersbee (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Hollie Dance, mother of Archie Battersbee (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A woman who lost a High Court life-support fight centred on her brain-damaged 12-year-old son wants to meet Health Secretary Steve Barclay to discuss the implications of the case.

Hollie Dance has written to Mr Barclay and wants a “public inquiry” into the “operation of this system” and a “change of the law”, following Archie Battersbee’s death.

Ms Dance says, in her letter, that “similar cases” are subject to “severe reporting restrictions” and “therefore away from public scrutiny”.

A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London ruled in July that doctors could lawfully stop providing life-support treatment for Archie, who suffered brain damage in an incident at home in Southend, Essex, in April.

Archie died recently after his mother, and father Paul Battersbee, failed in bids to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling.

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated, are being supported by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre.

Centre officials released Ms Dance’s letter to Mr Barclay on Friday.

“I would like to meet with you … to discuss how we can work together to ensure that no other family has to go through this,” says Ms Dance in the letter.

“Archie’s case has had a lot of publicity, but I know that many similar cases are heard in the Family Division subject to severe reporting restrictions, and therefore away from public scrutiny.

“There should be a comprehensive public inquiry into the operation of this system; and then a change of the law to protect the grieving families from cruelty.”

Ms Dance had earlier said she felt “backed into a corner” by the legal system and said her family felt “stripped” of rights.

Judges heard how Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.

Archie Battersbee
Archie Battersbee (Hollie Dance/PA)

She thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

The youngster did not regain consciousness.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought that he was brain-stem dead and said continued life-support treatment was not in his best interests.

Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions on what medical moves were in Archie’s best interests.

A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case and concluded that Archie was dead.

But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by his parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed by a different High Court judge, Mr Justice Hayden.

He ruled that ending treatment would be in Archie’s best interests after a further hearing.

Health department officials indicated that Ms Dance would get a response to her letter soon.

Ministers have already said they will commission a review into the causes of disagreement in the care of critically-ill children – detail was given in the 2022 Health and Care Act.

The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London
Hollie Dance speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mr Justice Hayden is currently overseeing another life-support treatment dispute.

Two Syrian refugees want him to rule that their seriously-ill six-year-old daughter should continue to receive life support treatment.

Specialists have told Mr Justice Hayden that the girl is suffering from a rare and incurable neurological condition, and dying.

They say she should be moved to a palliative care regime.

Her parents, who left Syria eight years ago and claimed political asylum in Britain, disagree and want her to receive “long-term ventilation”.

The judge has ruled that the girl – who is in the care of a hospital trust in Birmingham – cannot be identified in media reports of the case.

He was told the girl’s parents did not want her to be named in reports.

Mr Justice Hayden began hearing evidence earlier this week at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

The hearing is due to end next week.