In whose best interests image

New Law Journal, September 7, 2018
David Locke & Carmel Shachar (Executive Director)


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From the paper:

As a feature of the progressive globalisation of medicine, the recent, heavily litigated, trio of cases involving the withdrawal of treatment from infants (Charlie Gard, Isiah Haastrup and Alfie Evans) has highlighted what is asserted to be an international cultural, medical and medico-legal divergence in relation to the issues of futility, ‘best interests’ and the parental role in decision making in decisions to withdraw treatment from children.

The first instance decision in the Charlie Gard case, Great Ormond Street Hospital for

Children NHS Foundation Trust v Yates and others [2017] EWHC 972 (Fam), [2018] 1 All ER 569 highlighted this precisely, with Mr Justice Francis noting that a doctor in the USA, consulted by the family, had confirmed that treatment would be provided in the USA ‘if the parents so desired and could

pay for it’, even while acknowledging that treatment was ‘very unlikely’ to lead to any improvement. The family did indeed have the funds, but the Supreme Court went on
to confirm the first instance decision, that travelling to America to receive treatment with no real prospect of improving the child’s condition, in his prevailing clinical situation, was not in his best interests ([2017] EWCA Civ 410, [2018] 1 All ER 569). Other cases have seen similar arguments raised in relation to European hospitals, notably in Italy and Germany. Indeed, if one were to spend time looking at the highly politicised it might appear that it is only in the UK that treatment is ever withdrawn from a child.

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carmel shachar