The High Court has agreed to hear an urgent eleventh hour case on whether to allow 8-month old Indi Gregory to be transferred to a hospital in Italy for specialist treatment.
Indi has a mitochondrial condition, and has been receiving treatment at a Nottingham hospital since she was born. Her family have been fighting for her to remain on life-support, against her NHS medical team’s wishes, while they seek independent expert opinion from elsewhere.
Last week Mr Justice Robert Peel had ruled that there was no evidence to suggest that Indi could survive without a ventilator, and gave permission for the hospital to remove it. But at the last minute, the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital in Rome came forward with an offer to provide specialist treatment, at no cost to the Gregory family.
The Italian Hospital had agreed to accept Indi for treatment and to carry out the right ventricular outflow tract stent procedure that has been put forward by medical experts.
In a letter to the family, they said:
"We write to confirm that we are prepared to accept your daughter Indi Gregory, born 24 February 2023, for treatment at Bambino Gesu Children Hospital, Rome, with immediate effect."
The letter continued: "We have reviewed Indi’s medical records file and are currently preparing a detailed treatment plan for Indi with multidisciplinary input from doctors at Bambino Gesu Children Hospital."
The hospital said that the Italian government has offered to fund the treatment, but that the family would need to fund the cost of the air ambulance to transport her from Nottingham to Rome.
However, on Monday, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust reportedly resisted plans that would allow the parents of Indi Gregory to remove Indi from their care. According to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), who are representing the family, the Trust is maintaining that it is not in Indi's 'best interests', and threatened to proceed with removing her life-support despite the Italian offer and a pending urgent hearing.
Head of Public Policy, Tim Dieppe, tells Premier: "It's extraordinary the NHS Trust still argue that doctors feel it's in her best interest to die... Why the rush? Why are they desperate to remove treatment, rather than to give her a chance by allowing her to try and travel to this hospital to be treated. The hospital in Rome is keen to treat her, and thinks there's a different treatment to what the NHS here is giving her, that is worth a try."
The CLC, which supports cases where the right to life is at stake, says the threat caused significant distress to Mr Gregory and his family. They claim the previous court ruling made it clear that it is for the parents to choose whether the removal of life-support takes place in the hospital, hospice or at home.
A clinician at the hospital – which can’t be named because of a court order, said to Mr Gregory: ‘We need to proceed with extubating her and we need to do it this afternoon.’
Mr Gregory said: "The pressure and distress my family and I are being put under is unbearable and feels inhumane. How can it be in Indi's 'best interests' to die when she has a fully-funded offer from a leading paediatric hospital in Italy? We are concerned that the hospital now does not want to lose face and is determined no matter what for Indi's life to end.
“We have been given a real chance by the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital for Indi to get the care she needs and to have a longer life. We are amazed and truly grateful to the hospital and the Italian government, which has restored our faith in humanity.
"Indi deserves the chance for a longer life. We cannot force the NHS and courts in this country to care for Indi but together we can give her a chance with a truly amazing treatment plan in Italy. We hope and pray Mr Justice Robert Peel will do the right thing."