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Charlie Gard's mum in new legal battle of terminally ill baby's end of life care

Charlie Gard's mother Connie Yates arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for a hearing yesterday PICTURE: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Brian Farmer and Cathy Gordon

CHARLIE Gard's parents are embroiled in a new High Court fight with doctors over the circumstances of the terminally-ill baby's death.

The little boy's mother Connie Yates was back in court yesterday a day after she and partner Chris Gard abandoned legal action over treatment for the baby.

A lawyer representing the couple told a judge that the couple wanted to take Charlie home to die.

But lawyers representing the hospital said there were practical problems and the couple had put forward no clear plan.

Mr Justice Francis was told that the hospital had suggested a "hospice option".

He said the dispute cried out for settlement.

Barrister Grant Armstrong, who leads the couple's legal team, suggested to Mr Justice Francis that hospital bosses were placing obstacles in Charlie's parents' way.

But barrister Katie Gollop QC, who leads Great Ormond Street's legal team, said practicalities were of the "greatest importance" but Charlie's parents had proposed no clear plan.

Ms Gollop said bosses wanted to fulfil Charlie's parents' "last desire".

But she said medics wanted to avoid hazards or mishaps and wanted to ensure Charlie was safe.

She said providing intensive care to Charlie outside a hospital setting was not simple.

Bosses had suggested mediation but Charlie's parents had not wished to use the services of a mediator, she said.

Mr Gard and Ms Yates, who are aged in their thirties and come from Bedfont, west London, had asked Mr Justice Francis to rule that Charlie should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial in New York.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street said the therapy would not help. They said life-support treatment should stop.

Mr Justice Francis in April ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street and said Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity.

Charlie's parents subsequently failed to overturn his ruling in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London.

They also failed to persuade European Court of Human Rights judges to intervene.

But the couple had recently returned to court, saying they had new evidence and they asked Mr Justice Francis to change his mind.

The couple abandoned their legal fight on Monday after concluding that Charlie had deteriorated to the ''point of no return''.

Mr Justice Francis is overseeing the latest dispute at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

He suggested that the hearing could be staged behind closed doors.

But Ms Yates said she wanted the dispute aired in public.

Mr Gard was not at the hearing.

Mr Justice Francis halted the hearing at about 3.30pm so that lawyers and Ms Yates could have out-of-court discussions.

Great Ormond Street doctors told Mr Justice Francis that finalising an end-of-life care plan was the "most delicate and difficult task".

Ms Gollop QC, outlined doctors' concerns in a written statement given to the judge.

She said Charlie's best interests had to be balanced against his parents' needs.

"The care plan must be safe, it must spare Charlie all pain and protect his dignity," Ms Gollop said .

"At the same time, the plan must honour his parents' wishes about two matters in particular, namely the time and place of his passing."

"Charlie's parents want him to be with them and ventilated at home for several days before receiving palliative care," she said.

"Above all Great Ormond Street wants to fulfil that last wish.

"The key obstacle and one which the hospital cannot see a way around is the reality of invasive ventilation that Charlie requires."

Ms Gollop said such invasive ventilation was only provided in a hospital setting.

"Those resources cannot be provided by Great Ormond Street to Charlie at his parents' home," she said.

"Great Ormond Street is aware that there are other practical problems, one being that the ventilator does not fit through the front door.

"Charlie is a child who requires highly specialised treatment. His care cannot be simplified.

"It is in Charlie's best interests, and everybody's, that the risk of a precipitate, distressing or disordered death is removed so that he may be reassured of a peaceful and dignified passing."

Ms Gollop said Great Ormond Street had found an "excellent hospice" which would give Charlie and his parents the space, privacy and protection they needed.

Barrister Grant Armstrong, who is leading the couple's legal team, told the judge in a written statement: "The parents wish for a few days of tranquility outside of a hospital setting.

"The parents had hoped that Great Ormond Street would work with them.

"The parents' primary position is that Charlie's final days of palliative care... should take place at the family home."

Mr Armstrong told the judge: "We struggle with the difficulties which the hospital is placing in the way."

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