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Alfie Evans: Alder Hey Hospital defends staff against 'unprecedented personal abuse'

The hospital caring for a toddler who's been at the centre of a life support treatment legal dispute has released an open letter describing how staff have been personally abused during the case.

Alfie Evans has an undiagnosed brain condition, and his life support was withdrawn on Monday after a High Court ruling, upheld by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Staff at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool say they have been"deeply affected" by his "desperate story".

You can read the letter in full below:

Alder Hey hospital has warned patients and visitors to expect a police presence. Credit: PA

Open Letter from Sir David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd CBE

25th April 2018

Alfie Evans has deeply affected us all at Alder Hey. There isn’t one member of our staff untouched by his desperate story, the facts of the case and the publicity surrounding it. All of us feel deeply for Alfie and his whole family and we continue to do everything we can to support them as best we can, just as we have for the last 17 months.

Yet in the last two weeks we have found ourselves at the centre of a social media storm that has included many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff. This has led to often inappropriate interventions from a range of external bodies and individuals, some of which have caused significant disruption to our children, families and staff.

As a leading children’s healthcare provider, described by Justice Hayden, who heard the detailed evidence in Alfie’s case, as providing care that ‘can only be properly characterised as world class’, we share the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies. Our expert professional and compassionate clinical teams always work closely with parents and families in these difficult and distressing circumstances to provide support and comfort in a way that is sensitive to their needs.

Our nursing, medical and support staff come into work each day at Alder Hey determined to do the best for our patients and those who care for them. Justice Hayden has also commented upon the ‘diligent professionalism of some truly remarkable doctors and the warm and compassionate energy of the nurses whose concern and compassion is almost tangible’. Unfortunately, these same remarkable staff have recently been the target of unprecedented personal abuse that has been hard to bear.

As an organisation, we have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics. It has been a very difficult time. Having to carry on our usual day to day work in a hospital that has required a significant police presence just to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe is completely unacceptable. Our staff have received in person, via phone calls, email, and through social media channels a barrage of highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour that has shocked us all. Worse still, patients and visitors to Alder Hey have also reported abuse. We are truly grateful to Merseyside Police for their unstinting support. This has helped us maintain our focus on safeguarding Alfie’s comfort, dignity and privacy, which remains our first priority.

We have also been sustained by the huge warmth and support we have received from across Liverpool and beyond. Many, many families in Liverpool and the wider region have shared with us just how much they have been touched personally by the care they have received from Alder Hey. Their stories have reassured us that the vast majority of people would agree with Justice Hayden, that the care that we provide, day in day out, is truly outstanding. They know that we will always try to do our best for children. We hope that the special work of Alder Hey, and the special people who do it, will continue to be supported at this difficult time.

For that and on behalf of us all at Alder Hey we wish to express our sincere thanks.

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