Editor's Note: For those who claim to be pro-life, that includes ALL life, not just pre-born or new-born babies. Those who are threatening the medical staff at Great Ormond Street hospital, I would contend are misguided individuals, or maybe even prevaricators trying to escalate the tensions of the situation. At any rate, they are not truly pro-life proponents.
Scotland Yard has been called in to investigate allegations that staff at Great Ormond Street hospital have been bombarded with violent threats and abuse over the case of the baby Charlie Gard.
Thousands of abusive messages, including death threats, have been sent to doctors and nurses at the children’s hospital in London, the chair of the hospital revealed. She said that staff were also facing abuse in the street. Families visiting their sick children had also been “harassed and discomfited,” they said.
The staff are being targeted by protesters opposed to Great Ormond Street hospital’s (GOSH) role in the treatment of baby Charlie, where doctors are seeking permission to turn off the youngster’s life-support machine.
Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, want the judge to rule that their 11-month-old son, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should be allowed to undergo an experimental therapy overseen by a specialist in New York. Specialists at GOSH say the therapy would not help and that life-support treatment should stop.
Mary MacLeod, chair of Great Ormond Street hospital, said: “In recent weeks the GOSH community has been subjected to a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance. Staff have received abuse both in the street and online.
“Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life’s work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats. Families have been harassed and discomforted while visiting their children and we have received complaints of unacceptable behaviour even within the hospital itself.
“Great Ormond Street hospital is in close contact with the Metropolitan police and we will do everything possible to hold to account anybody who is involved in this kind of deplorable behaviour.” Mr Justice Francis is scheduled to analyse the most recent evidence at a hearing in the family division of the high court on Monday.
MacLeod said: “Charlie Gard’s case is a heart-breaking one. We fully understand that there is intense public interest and that emotions run high. We recognise the tireless advocacy of Charlie’s loving parents and the natural sympathy people feel with his situation.
“However, whatever the strong emotions raised by this case, there can be no excuse for patients and families to have their privacy and peace disturbed as they deal with their own often very stressful situations or for dedicated doctors and nurses to suffer this kind of abuse.”
When asked whether police officers would be stationed outside the hospital, a spokesman for GOSH said: “From an operational and security perspective we cannot say anything further.”
The family of Charlie Gard has previously condemned the “abhorrent” threats made against legal and medical staff involved in the critically ill baby’s care. Their appeal for calm was made after the judge warned that “vile” abuse had been directed at GOSH staff. “We absolutely abhor any suggestion of any threats or intimidation against members of the judiciary, legal profession or medical profession,” a spokesman for Charlie’s parents told reporters.
Speaking on behalf of “the entire family and their supporters” Alasdair Seton-Marsden said anyone wanting to help the family should demonstrate peacefully, donate to the family’s fund or sign their petition, adding: “We absolutely abhor violence.”
Sir Keir Starmer, the constituency MP for the hospital, said: “Great Ormond Street is one of the world’s leading hospitals for children. The staff work tirelessly and with total dedication. Charlie Gard’s case is truly tragic and the whole nation sympathises with his parents. It is understandable that people feel very strongly about the case. But the abuse of staff at Great Ormond Street hospital outside the hospital and online is totally unacceptable. There is no place for this abuse and it has to stop.”