To help inform our independent review on disagreements that can arise in the care of critically ill children, we commissioned a review of the literature and evidence relating to this area.

The care and treatment of children who are critically ill often involves complexity and uncertainty, and disagreements can arise between parents and healthcare staff about the best course of action. High-profile court cases in the UK have highlighted the distress and heartbreak that these kinds of disagreements cause for everyone involved.

We have been commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to conduct an independent review of the disagreements that can arise between families and healthcare teams in the care of critically ill children in England. As we come up to the halfway point of the independent review, we are pleased to share today the literature review that we commissioned as one of several evidence gathering activities for this project.

To help inform our independent review, we commissioned a literature review, which is now complete. This builds upon our earlier literature reviews and briefing note from 2018.

Following a competitive tender process, the literature review was written by Dr Kirsty Moreton, Associate Professor in Law at the University of Birmingham. The remit of this literature review was to examine the evidence base in relation to three questions:

  1. What are the causes of disagreements in the care of critically ill children in England?
  2. What is the impact that these disagreements can have on the child, their family, the healthcare professionals, the NHS, and wider society?
  3. What are the possible mechanisms for avoiding, recognising, managing, and resolving disagreement?

This literature review will be used in conjunction with evidence gathered from the concurrent consultation and other research activities, to produce a final report to go before Parliament in October 2023.

You can read the literature review here: Disagreements in the Care of Critically Ill Children: Causes, Impact and Possible Resolution Mechanisms