Doctors' anonymity in end-of-life cases now canceled

April 9, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A ground-breaking judgment has been delivered by the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom, ending the anonymity that concealed the identities of physicians who handled end-of-life cases.

According to a report from Christian Concern, the ruling could now result in the cancellation of anonymity orders in dozens of cases.

The organization reported, "The practice of making life-long anonymity orders by the secretive family courts has escalated in recent times in the wake of the Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans cases where hospitals seeking to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from two babies were subject to intense public comment."

The parents in cases like those tragedies "challenged … injunctions obtained by two hospital trusts which prevented them naming the doctors responsible for the treatment of their deceased children or from speaking fully about their experiences."

Those hospital corporations claimed concealing the doctors' identities was needed to protect them.

They had on their side the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine and the Paediatric Critical Care Society, and more.

But, Christian Concern reported, "Lord Burnett of Maldon, The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, overturned the High Court judgment of the President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane, ruling that the imperatives of open justice demand that people involved in legal proceedings be publicly identified and that people caught up in disputes with the state be allowed to tell their story."

The ruling said, "The intense focus on the specific rights being claimed delivers the clear conclusion that the article 10 rights of the parents in wishing to 'tell their story' outweigh such article 8 [anonymity] rights of clinicians and staff as may still be in play."

The court rejected the idea that the European Convention on Human Rights required anonymity in such cases.

Gard and Evans, both children, were stricken with serious diseases that hospital officials essentially decided were terminal, denying the parents the right to seek alternatives or other treatments elsewhere. In fact, in such cases often food and water are withheld from patients, who shortly die.

The court ruling said, "We are aware of no Strasbourg case which has come close to allowing concerns about morale, recruitment or general well-being of health staff to provide a justification for curtailing the right to free expression about individual experiences whilst being cared for, or on matters of general public interest."

Drs. Rashid Abbasi and Aliya Abbasi, whose daughter, Zainab, died at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospital after proceedings were initiated in 2019 to remove the life-sustaining treatment, said, "Our family has suffered so much due to the actions of the hospital. As doctors ourselves we were aware of the medical gaslighting and the appalling mistreatment our daughter was subjected to but we were rendered powerless to take effective action by the injunctions the hospital obtained which served only to protect a toxic culture that puts doctors’ interests before those of their patients. The transparency which the Court of Appeal has endorsed will ensure proper accountability within the medical profession and help restore ethical standards and public trust in the NHS."

"It is very reassuring that the Court of Appeal has set proper limits to the secrecy of family courts proceedings. Withdrawal of life support from a child is the gravest decision that doctors and judges can ever make. Transparency is essential to ensure proper scrutiny of those decisions by the public and especially by the medical profession," said Andrea Williams chief of the Christian Legal Center.

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