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Alder Hey nurses face 'unprecedented abuse' over Alfie Evans case

Alder Hey Children's Hospital staff targeted by protesters opposed to withdrawal of life support
Protestors outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Alder Hey Children's Hospital staff targeted by protesters opposed to withdrawal of life support

Nurses at Alder Hey Children's Hospital have been the target of unprecedented personal abuse says the trust at the centre of a legal battle over withdrawal of life-support from 23-month-old Alfie Evans.

Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust chair Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd have publicly defended their staff, who have been looking after Alfie for more than a year.

'We have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics it has been a very difficult time'

David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd

The child has been at the centre of a protracted legal battle in which doctors have argued he is suffering, his undiagnosed degenerative brain disease will not improve, and he should

Alder Hey Children's Hospital staff targeted by protesters opposed to withdrawal of life support


Protesters outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Picture: Getty

Nurses at Alder Hey Children's Hospital have been the target of unprecedented personal abuse says the trust at the centre of a legal battle over withdrawal of life-support from 23-month-old Alfie Evans.

Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust chair Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd have publicly defended their staff, who have been looking after Alfie for more than a year.

'We have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics – it has been a very difficult time'

David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd

The child has been at the centre of a protracted legal battle in which doctors have argued he is suffering, his undiagnosed degenerative brain disease will not improve, and he should be allowed to die.

A ventilator was withdrawn from the toddler on 24 April and, a day later, three High Court judges refused an appeal to allow the child to be flown to Italy for further treatment.

Police investigation

Alder Hey has seen a number of protests about the case in recent weeks, including an attempt to storm the hospital during a demonstration attended by 200 people.

Sir David said his staff had received 'a barrage of abuse' on social media, through emails, phone calls and in person.

Merseyside Police are now investigating a number of claims that patients and staff have been intimidated by protesters.

Heartbreak

Ms Shepherd and Sir David acknowledged that the case had deeply affected everyone working at Alder Hey and they shared 'the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies'.

'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,' they wrote.

'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".'

Personal abuse

'Unfortunately, these same remarkable staff have recently been the target of unprecedented personal abuse that has been hard to bear,' they added.

'As an organisation, we have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics – it has been a very difficult time.'

They also added that having to carry on working in a hospital requiring 'a significant police presence' to keep patients, staff and visitors safe was completely unacceptable.

RCN support

RCN north west regional director Estephanie Dunn said the college was aware that some members at Alder Hey had been the targets of 'highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour, both in person and on social media'.

'I have spoken to the HR director at Alder Hey and we are in contact with the press office to offer our support to staff who are still going into work to do the very best for their patients and families in the most difficult of circumstances,' she said.

'We recognise that when trusts are in the media spotlight, it can have an impact on the staff involved or within the workplace. The RCN is here to offer advice, support and a free counselling service for members all year round.'

Affected members can contact RCN senior regional officer Ian Fletcher by email (ian.fletcher@rcn.org.uk) or call the RCN on 0345 772 6100 between 8.30am and 8.30pm.


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