Alder Hey defends staff following abuse over Alfie Evans' case in open letter

The hospital caring for the desperately ill toddler Alfie Evans, has released an open letter to defend its staff against abuse it says they are receiving.

Read more: Parents of Alfie Evans keep bedside vigil amid tensions over treatment

The hospital says its staff have faced a barrage of abuse in recent weeks

The hospital says its staff have faced a barrage of abuse in recent weeks

The letter, which was published yesterday, says that staff at Alder Hey have faced a "barrage of highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour" over recent weeks as they continued to care for children.

In the letter Sir David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd CBE, Chairman and Chief Executive at the hospital, say that staff have been deeply affected by Alfie Evans and his desperate story and are doing everything they can to help support him and his family.

But despite this, hospital bosses say that their staff have recently been the target of "unprecedented personal abuse" in person, via phone calls, email and social media.

Thanks was also given to the many families that continued to support the hospital and the hospital chiefs asked for people to continue to support the "special" people who work at Alder Hey.

The letter in full

Open Letter from Sir David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd CBE

25th April 2018

Alfie Evans has deeply affected us all at Alder Hey. There isn’t one member of our staff untouched by his desperate story, the facts of the case and the publicity surrounding it. All of us feel deeply for Alfie and his whole family and we continue to do everything we can to support them as best we can, just as we have for the last 17 months.

Yet in the last two weeks we have found ourselves at the centre of a social media storm that has included 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.

As a leading children’s healthcare provider, described by Justice Hayden, who heard the detailed evidence in Alfie’s case, as providing care that ‘can only be properly characterised as world class’, 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 in a way that is sensitive to their needs.

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

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. 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. We are truly grateful to Merseyside Police for their unstinting support. This has helped us maintain our focus on safeguarding Alfie’s comfort, dignity and privacy, which remains our first priority.

We have also been sustained by the huge warmth and support we have received from across Liverpool and beyond. Many, many families in Liverpool and the wider region have shared with us just how much they have been touched personally by the care they have received from Alder Hey. Their stories have reassured us that the vast majority of people would agree with Justice Hayden, that the care that we provide, day in day out, is truly outstanding. 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.

For that and on behalf of us all at Alder Hey we wish to express our sincere thanks.

Sir David Henshaw Louise Shepherd CBE

Chairman Chief Executive