Baroness Finlay said she hopes independent mediators can be used in future as ‘adversarial conflict doesn’t help anybody’.
There should be an independent inquiry into how “very, very difficult” brain injury cases are handled, a palliative care professor has said.
Baroness Finlay said she hopes independent mediators can be used in future as “adversarial conflict doesn’t help anybody”.
She said cases are reaching the courts “too quickly and too early” and an alternative way of managing communication between parties is needed.
The comments come following a lengthy legal battle between the family of Archie Battersbee and medics who argued that his life support should be withdrawn.
The professor of palliative medicine told Times Radio: “I’m hoping that by the end of the summer we’ll have an inquiry into different ways of handling these very, very difficult cases so that there is independent mediation.
“And I say independent because, if it’s supplied by the hospital, or it’s supplied by the parents, one side may feel mistrustful of the other.
“But to be in the situation of adversarial conflict doesn’t help anybody. The parents don’t want to go to court. The doctors don’t want to go to court. The managers don’t want to go to court.”
She added: “My worry is that these cases are going forward to court too quickly and too early, and that we need an alternative way of managing the communication between the doctors and the parents and sometimes others in the family as well.”
Baroness Finlay added: “The difficulty for the parents is, initially, they are in terrible shock. They’re often wanting to deny that there is even brain injury.
“And for them, when there’s brain injury, often their child looks intact. So their face looks as it always did.
“So understanding what has gone in inside the brain and the amount of injury is something that needs to be sensitively explained to parents, and that takes time, because they need time to take in what’s happened and begin to come to terms with it.
“If you go too fast, the parents are just bowled over further and it makes it even more difficult, and then you get into this situation where lawyers get involved, things escalate, and it gets harder and harder to communicate between the doctor and the parents as to what’s happening.”
The Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to questions about any potential inquiry.
But a Government spokesperson said: “We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.
“The Government asked the High Court to urgently consider the request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”