'No rush' to change Charlie's care after Strasbourg court ruling


Doctors say they are in "no rush" to change the care of a terminally-ill baby after his parents lost their final legal battle to take him to the US for experimental treatment.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who are in their 30s, from Bedfont, west London, wanted 10-month-old Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, to undergo a therapy trial in the US.

The couple had pursued their case through the courts in the UK over the past three months, culminating in a decision by the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Charlie is being cared for, said therapy proposed by a doctor in the US was experimental and would not help.

They said life-support treatment should stop.

Charlie's parents had asked European court judges in Strasbourg, France, to consider their claims after judges in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street doctors.

But Strasbourg judges on Tuesday refused to intervene.

A Great Ormond Street spokeswoman said the European Court decision marked "the end" of a "difficult process".

But she said there would be "no rush" to change Charlie's care.

She said there would be "careful planning and discussion".

"Our thoughts are with Charlie's parents,"  she added.

"(The) decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie's parents as we prepare for the next steps.

"There will be no rush by Great Ormond Street Hospital to change Charlie's care and any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion."

European court judges announced their decision in a statement after analysing written arguments from lawyers representing Charlie's parents.

Ms Yates, who had screamed when Supreme Court justices dismissed an appeal earlier this month, told Sky News the European court ruling was "upsetting".

A European court spokeswoman said in the statement that judges had "endorsed in substance" the approach of UK judges.

She said the UK legal framework was compatible with European human rights legislation.

Lawyers representing Charlie's parents had argued that the couple's human rights and Charlie's human rights were being undermined.

They said the couple's right to respect for family life was being infringed and Charlie's right to life and liberty violated.

A High Court judge had in April ruled against a trip to America and in favour of Great Ormond Street doctors.

Mr Justice Francis concluded life-support treatment should end and said Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity.

Three Court of Appeal judges upheld that ruling and three Supreme Court justices dismissed a further challenge by the couple.

Mr Justice Francis made a ruling after a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He heard Charlie, who was born on August 4 last year, has a form of mitochondrial disease, a condition which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.

Specialists in the US had offered a therapy called nucleoside.