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Alder Hey nurses subjected to personal abuse ‘that has been hard to bear’

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Leaders at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust have spoken out against the “unprecedented” level of abuse that nurses and doctors have endured over the tragic case of Alfie Evans.

The case has seen widespread media coverage around the world and sparked campaigners to gather outside the hospital, with its staff facing a hostile atmosphere when going to and from work.

“We have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics”

David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd

The trust’s leaders also said that over the last two weeks it had found itself at the “centre of a social media storm”, featuring “many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff”.

“This has led to often inappropriate interventions from a range of external bodies and individuals, some of which have caused significant disruption to our children, families and staff,” they noted.

Writing in an open letter, trust chair Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd said: “As an organisation, we have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics. It has been a very difficult time.

“Having to carry on our usual day to day work in a hospital that has required a significant police presence just to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe is completely unacceptable,” they said.

“These remarkable staff have recently been the target of unprecedented personal abuse that has been hard to bear”

David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd

They added: “Our staff have received in person, via phone calls, email, and through social media channels a barrage of highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour that has shocked us all.

“Worse still, patients and visitors to Alder Hey have also reported abuse,” they said in the letter, which was published by the trust yesterday.

The toddler has been in Alder Hey since December 2016 with a rare undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition.

Doctors have said his brain has been destroyed by his illness and it was in his best interests to withdraw life support, which was duly done on Monday.

However, his parents – Kate James and Tom Evans – have challenged the decision, losing a series of legal challenges against a High Court ruling in February that the trust could withdraw ventilation.

“We share the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies”

David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd

More recently, Mr Evans and Ms James had hoped to take their son to the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, which has links to the Vatican, where his care could continue. But this was also rejected.

In their letter, Sir David and Ms Shepherd said: “Alfie Evans has deeply affected us all at Alder Hey. There isn’t one member of our staff untouched by his desperate story.

“We share the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies. Our expert professional and compassionate clinical teams always work closely with parents and families in these difficult and distressing circumstances to provide support and comfort,” they wrote.

They added: “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.

Sir David Henshaw

Sir David Henshaw

David Henshaw

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

However, Sir David and Ms Shepherd said the trust and its staff had been “sustained by the huge warmth and support we have received from across Liverpool and beyond” in recent days.

They said personal experiences shared with the trust by “many, many families in Liverpool and the wider region” had “reassured us that the care that we provide, day in day out, is truly outstanding”.

They added: “They know that we will always try to do our best for children. We hope that the special work of Alder Hey, and the special people who do it, will continue to be supported at this difficult time.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Disgraceful behaviour, nobody thinking about the effects of noise and aggression on other patients and families. Huge sympathy to staff.

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