The parents of a 23-month-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment battle have lost their latest legal fight to allow the child to be moved to a foreign hospital for treatment.
Court of appeal judges ruled on Monday that Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, could not take their son Alfie Evans abroad to receive treatment for a rare degenerative brain disease.
The couple, from Liverpool, have already lost cases in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights. Judges have heard that Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” and that further treatment would be futile.
The child’s parents want to move their son to a hospital in Rome where they believe he will receive better treatment. They say doctors at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool have refused to let them remove Alfie from the premises.
On Monday afternoon, appeal judges Lord Justice Davis, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan upheld a ruling by high court judge Mr Justice Hayden, who endorsed a detailed plan put forward by Alder Hey doctors for withdrawing life-support treatment.
Hayden said details of that plan could not be revealed because Alfie was entitled to privacy at the end of his life.
Barrister for the parents, Paul Diamond, said the couple might make a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Appeal court judges said doctors should continue treating Alfie pending a Supreme Court decision.
Last week, Alfie’s parents said their son had improved in recent weeks and they had asked Hayden to allow a new assessment, but he refused. The judge said the unanimous view of medical experts was that Alfie’s brain had been eroded by disease and further assessment was pointless. The child’s parents also suggested that Alfie was being unlawfully detained at Alder Hey, but the judge dismissed that suggestion.
The latest challenge came as Alder Hey children’s hospital employed extra security personnel because of demonstrations in support of the toddler’s parents. The hospital said noise from protesters outside the building on Sunday night had disturbed other young patients.
Some hospital visitors described the protest as “a circus” and said there was a bouncy castle, people drinking alcohol, and “children running everywhere” as 100 supporters gathered outside on Sunday night.
One patient’s relative, who did not want to be named, told BBC Radio Merseyside that visiting Alder Hey was “intimidating and scary” and that she heard chants of “burn it down” from protestors, which she said was “taking it too far”.
Alder Hey said in a statement: “We would ask that noise levels outside the hospital are kept to a minimum and for example car horns are not sounded.
“Loud and constant noise, such as from car horns, affects sleep and raises anxiety levels for our patients, especially when recovering from procedures, so please bear them in mind.”
Shortly after the statement, Evans posted a video on Facebook of Alfie’s hospital room, from which he said patients could only hear the noise outside if the window was opened. Car horns and cheering could be heard when Evans did so.
Alder Hey advised visitors that there would be more security inside the hospital “and a more controlled approach to access to certain areas”.