UK court to decide family’s right to see treatment abroad for their child

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A UK court will decide whether the family of a child who suffered a traumatic brain injury will be allowed to seek treatment in Italy, against the clinical judgment of  Royal London Hospital, which says releasing her is not in her best interests.

Tafida Raqeeb suffered a traumatic brain injury in February as a result of a rare condition, arteriovenous malformation, where a tangle of blood vessels causes blood to bypass the brain tissue. And, says a BBC News report, Tafida’s mother, Shelina Begum, and her father, Mohammed Raqeeb, want to seek treatment in Italy. But the Royal London Hospital, which is caring for their daughter, says releasing her is not in her best interests.

A spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said that its clinicians and independent medical experts had found “further medical treatment would not improve her condition”.

The report says in England and Wales the concept of parental responsibility is set out in law, in the Children Act 1989. This gives parents the responsibility broadly to decide what happens to their child, including the right to consent to medical treatment. But this right is not absolute.

If a public body considers that a parent’s choices are not in the best interests of their child, and an agreement cannot be reached, it can challenge these choices by going to court.

The report says it comes down to a judge to make the final decision, based on the evidence available. The law does not consider either doctors or parents to be automatically right – instead, it says that the best interests of the child are the deciding factor.

A judge will hear evidence about Tafida’s clinical condition, the impact of moving her and the possibility of further treatment having any success, in order to decide the best course of action. In the meantime, the hospital cannot withdraw life support without the parents’ consent, until a court rules it lawful.

BBC News report

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