High Court to decide on right to report in 'sick baby' case

High Court Family Division will hold a special hearing to discuss reporting restrictions

A battle over reporting restrictions in a case involving the rights of doctors to decline to resuscitate a seriously ill baby girl is heading for London’s High Court.

Charlotte Wright was born three months premature at St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth, in October last year weighing just one pound and measuring only five inches and with serious heart and lung problems.

Since her birth she has remained in hospital, her breathing has stopped several times and doctors say she has no long-term chances of survival as her lungs are so severely damaged.

Now her parents have been told the hospital does not want her to be artificially resuscitated and that it would be “against her interests” for that to happen if she ceases breathing again.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, with the backing of medical experts, will seek High Court approval for its stance later this month.

However, the parents are opposing the trust’s moves. But before that case goes to court on 30 September, the question of whether the pending hearing should be subject to reporting restrictions is to be the subject of a special hearing in the High Court’s Family Division on Monday.

In advance of that hearing the court has invited the media to make its views known by e-mail to both the court and the family’s solicitors.

Pending the hearing, however, Mr Justice Hedley has already ordered that, while the name of the child, Charlotte, and the parents, Darren and Debbie Wyatt, can be disclosed, there should be no identification of employees of the hospital trust, including the nurses and doctors involved in caring for her.

By Roger Pearson

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