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Tafida Raqeeb: Parents win legal fight against doctors

The parents of five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb have won a High Court battle to take her to Italy for treatment.

Tafida suffers from a serious brain injury which UK doctors say she has no prospect of recovering from. The conclusion of the week-long trial comes after months of uncertainty, following the doctors’ view that Tafida’s life support should be withdrawn, contrary to the parents’ religious beliefs.

Tafida was declined relief by the Court in relation to the application for judicial review of the decision to refuse that she could be transferred to a hospital in Italy. The proceedings brought by the NHS Trust for an Order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 were dismissed, as was the application for declarations under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court.

The effect of the decision is that “either the NHS Trust or the Gaslini Hospital in Italy (or another hospital) will have to continue to provide Tafida with life-sustaining treatment”. A finding was made that there was no apparent justification for interfering with Tafida’s Article 56 right to receive treatment in another EU Member State.

The Judge, Mr Justice MacDonald, stated that the traditional ‘best interests’ test remains the “gold standard” against which cases of this kind are decided. Mr Justice MacDonald stressed however, that any NHS Trust when faced with a request by parents of an EU citizen child for transfer for medical treatment in another Member State, in deciding whether or not to agree to that course of action the NHS Trust will need to consider the directly effective EU rights of the child.

The Court also confirmed that where an NHS Trust, having properly considered those directly effective EU rights, concludes that a transfer would not be in the best interests of the child then an application to the Court should be made to determine best interests issues.

The Defendant Trust now has 21 days in which to appeal, if so advised.

Click here for the full judgment.

For more information or to discuss this matter further, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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