14:42, April 26 147 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-26 14:42:04
Alfie Evans' father offers olive branch to hospital staff

The father of 23-month-old Alfie Evans, who is at the centre of a life-support treatment battle, has said he wants to build bridges with hospital staff.

Making a statement outside Alder Hey hospital where his son is being treated, Tom Evans thanked staff “for their dignity and professionalism” and acknowledged the legal battle must have been an “incredibly difficult time” for them.

He described how the “intense focus” on his family, including Alfie’s mother, Kate James, had turned their lives upside down and asked for supporters to “return back to [their] everyday lives” and give his family and the hospital privacy.

“Together we recognise the strains recent events have put upon us all and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned. In Alfie’s interest we will work with his team on a plan to provide our boy with the dignity and comfort that he needs.”

Earlier, he told reporters he would meet doctors to discuss taking his son home for palliative care.

On Wednesday, a court rejected a last-ditch appeal by Alfie’s parents against a ruling preventing them from flying him to Rome for further care. The Italian government had agreed to grant the boy citizenship, with a hospital in the capital offering treatment.

Alfie, who has an undiagnosed degenerative brain disease, has been at the centre of a protracted legal fight in which UK doctors have argued that his condition will not improve, that he is suffering and should be allowed to die.

“We got rejected yesterday to go to Italy unfortunately,” said Tom Evans on Thursday morning. “We could take it further but would that be the right thing to do, would there be more criticism? So what we do today is we have a meeting with the doctors at Alder Hey and we now start asking to go home.

“Alfie doesn’t need intensive care any more. Alfie is lying on the bed with one litre of oxygen going into his lungs and the rest is him. Some people say it’s a miracle. It’s not a miracle; it’s a misdiagnosis.”

A ventilator was withdrawn from the child on Tuesday and supporters hailed it as a miracle that he had been able to breathe for so long unaided. But, speaking at Wednesday’s hearing, a barrister for Alder Hey said the parents had not engaged in any discussion about withdrawal of care and that doctors had never said death would be instantaneous after his ventilator was removed.

An Alder Hey clinician told a previous hearing that it was impossible to move Alfie home for palliative care treatment because of the breakdown in the relationship between doctors and the family, and the hostility of some supporters.

On Wednesday, three court of appeal judges backed the decision made at the high court the previous day. The high court had ruled that Alfie might be allowed home but could not be flown to a hospital in Italy.

Mr Justice Hayden said that although Alfie had been a “fighter” since his life support had been removed, his condition had “almost entirely wiped out” his brain matter and he stood no chance of recovery.

The Italian hospital had acknowledged it could not find a cure, but had proposed maintaining Alfie’s life for about two weeks while doctors tried to investigate his condition.

Police on Wednesday issued a warning to supporters of the parents – many of whom have protested outside Alder Hey hospital – that the “unprecedented personal abuse” experienced by medical staff would not be tolerated.

Ch Insp Chris Gibson said social media posts were being monitored and any malicious or threatening behaviour would be investigated.

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