Supreme Court to rule on anonymity for doctors in end-of-life cases

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Christian campaigners and families affected by controversial end-of-life treatment decisions have said they hope the Supreme Court will uphold an earlier judgment that overturned life-long anonymity protection for doctors involved in such medical cases. 

A hearing will take place at the Supreme Court over two days, starting Monday, to decide which powers courts have to issue injunctions that prevent the naming of doctors and hospital staff involved in decisions to end the life-sustaining treatment of children.

The Court of Appeal ruled in March last year to end medical anonymity in end-of-life cases. 

Christian Concern CEO, Andrea Williams, said it was vital that the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal's judgment. 

"The Court of Appeal ruling set proper limits to the secrecy of family courts proceedings," she said. 

"Withdrawal of life support from a child is the gravest decision which the 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.

"We know from experience that even in cases of profound disagreements between families and doctors, most families have a lot of praise for health professionals who had done their best for their child. There may sometimes be criticisms of particular actions by particular doctors.

"The best way to get to the truth of the matter is through open courts. Professionals who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear from transparency. It is now crucial for the Supreme Court to uphold the Court of Appeal's ruling."

Doctors Rashid and Aliya Abbasi, who lost their daughter Zainab in 2019 after life-sustaining treatment was ended, said they were "rendered powerless to take effective action by the injunctions the hospital obtained which served only to protect a toxic culture which 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," they said. 

Lanre Haastrup, whose son Isaiah died at 12 months old after a High Court battle, said, "We were very encouraged by the Court of Appeal ruling and had hoped that we would finally be able to receive justice for Isaiah, and to be able to tell his story.

"Through this case we have always wanted to shine the light of truth on what happened to Isaiah to seek justice for him and ensure that in future other families will not have to suffer what we went through as his parents."