A new BBC One drama will portray a family’s legal battle over their daughter’s medical care

A new BBC drama ‘Best Interests’ starts this evening (Monday 12 June) on BBC One at 9pm.

The four-part series will tell the fictional story of 13-year-old Marnie, who has a life-threatening medical condition, and her parents’ legal battle to keep her alive, against medical advice. Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen lead the cast.

Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Danielle Hamm, was featured on BBC One's 'Points of View' to share her thoughts on the first two episodes of the series, which aired last week on Monday, June 12 and Tuesday, June 13 at 9pm on BBC One. The third and fourth episodes will air this week on Monday, June 19 and Tuesday, June 20 in the same time slot. 

'Best Interests' will bring to the fore some of the key themes and issues that arise in relation to fundamental disagreements over a child’s care between healthcare teams and families. Real-life court cases in the UK in recent years have highlighted the distress and heartbreak that disagreements about the care of critically ill children can cause for everyone involved.

In our current independent review, we are delving deep into exploring the causes of disagreements in England between parents/carers of a critically ill child and the healthcare teams responsible for their care or medical treatment. We aim to understand and assess how these disagreements might be avoided; and how their resolution might be handled sensitively and collaboratively.

We have been commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to conduct this independent review, and as part of this work are currently gathering evidence and speaking to a wide range of people with experience of disagreements about the care of a critically ill child in England. We completed an open call for evidence earlier this year and are currently running two surveys to gather views from as many people as possible, as well as holding interviews to speak with parents who have been involved in such disagreements.

We will bring together all the evidence we gather to prepare a report with recommendations for action, which will be laid before Parliament in or before early October.

Natalie Michaux, who is leading our independent review, attended a screening of episode one of 'Best Interests' along with many of our team. Natalie says:

"This is a really powerful piece of television. It was tough to watch but very balanced, and I thought the impact of the situation on the child, the family and the healthcare professionals was clear and sensitively reflected. The themes arising in the programme echoed many of the insights that are coming through from our research, too, which is interesting and encouraging."

We look forward to following the rest of the series. If you would like to get in touch with us to find out more about our independent review, including opportunities to contribute to it, please contact the team at children@nuffieldbioethics.org.