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Charlie’s Law tabled in the House of Commons in a landmark moment

20th March 2020,

Three months into 2020 and the crucial work of The Charlie Gard Foundation and supportive figures is showing no signs of slowing down. In a watershed moment, Bambos Charalambous – Labour MP for Enfield Southgate – tabled the Child (Access to Treatment) Bill, also known as Charlie’s Law, for its first reading in the Commons on March 18, as a 10 Minute Rule Motion. His full speech can be found below.

The Bill received cross-party support from 11 MPs from both major parties – Labour and Conservative. Their backing is firmly behind this important Bill. It’s the crystallisation of months extensive work, where Connie and Chris collaborated with NHS professionals, world-leading medical ethicists, and legal experts to create this legal text. 

The proposed law has received support from Seema Malhotra, Emma Hardy, Sir Roger Gale, Preet Kaur Gill, Ruth Cadbury, Virendra Sharma, Sir David Amess, Tim Loughton, Kerry McCarthy, Kate Hollern, Alex Sobel and Taiwo Owatemi. At the end of the session, it was announced the second reading will take place on 27th November 2020. 

As has been highlighted previously, this Bill looks to ensure early access to mediation for parents and doctors in the event of a disagreement over the proposed treatment for a child and a review of the best interests’ principle. The last thing those responsible for the care of a child want is for cases to escalate to Court. It goes beyond this too, by encouraging access to medical ethics committees, medical data for the parents so a second opinion can be gained, and legal aid for those who require financial support – so that the parents voice can be heard by medical professionals and a fully informed decision can be made. 

Recently, Bambos met with the Medical Mediation Foundation – an organisation supporting patients, families and professionals to manage and resolve conflicts about care, treatment and communication. We will continue to meet with experts in the field who are able to inform our policy, and ensure that the government, through this Bill, works to prevent cases escalating to Court. This benefits no one involved. 

On the other side of the same coin, the momentum in the House of Lords continues to grow. Baroness Finlay of Llandaff has been tirelessly working to build support around her ‘Access to Palliative Care and Treatment for Children’ Bill. 

This includes continual meetings with senior Peers to increase momentum ahead of the committee stage. The line by line examination of Baroness Finlay’s Bill will take place at the committee stage but this is yet to be announced. 

As the Bills progress in both Houses, we will continue to look ahead – in the hope that we can safeguard the critical bond of trust between doctors and parents and save the NHS millions at the same time.