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Open Letter from the Chairman and Chief Executive of Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

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

Your comments

  • I am overjoyed to see the hospital finally defend itself and it’s excellent staff. Please be assured there are more with you than against you! Unfortunately stupidity / ignorance always shouts loudest. The social media storm has been appalling. The trust and all its professionals have handled it with astounding dignity.
    With heartfelt gratitude from a mother who’s 25 month old is under your paediatric, neurology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology and speech & language & genetics team. Again, thank you and please assure the doctors involved they have the publics faith and trust.

  • I just want to reach out and give a little bit of love and appreciation to all of the staff at Alder Hey. The allegations and abuse you have received over these last few weeks have been utterly despicable and wholly unwarranted. Many of us, if not most, understand the work you do and we truly appreciate the compassion and care you give to all of your patients and their families.

    We, the people of Liverpool, are grateful to have you on our doorstep and we cannot thank you enough for the help you have given to so many during the most difficult of times.

    Your hard work does not go unnoticed. Thank you

  • Well done on press release so pleased it has been done,thank you the staff need support

  • #I’mwithAlderHey

    Thank you 🙂

  • keep up all the excellent service everybody provides at Alder Hey
    especially under the sad circumstances at present thinking of all staff and patients

  • Please be aware your work and dedication,is fully appreciated by all right thinking members of the community.However sad and heartbreaking the current situation is, it does not in anyway justify the attacks upon the staff, that is deplorable. Keep up the great work you do and from which l benefited as a small child over 50 yrs ago ,when the skill of your surgeons saved my life.

  • Brilliant, very well put and so nice to read of the massive support from the board for your staff who have and continue to do a brilliant job in the most difficult of circumstances.

    What the father and uninformed people are doing is unjust. I would hope that the force of law will be applied to some for their actions. People these days are too quick to judge without the full facts and then jump on the band wagon of social media and blame, I wish it would stop.

    All I can do is try and balance the storm of protest with my support for all of the staff who deserve so much more positive support from us. I have read so of the many positive comments posted here, clearly your staff are brilliant and dedicated.

    Please add my warmth and support for all you and your staff do.

  • Goodmorning and Best Wishes to all staff and families at Alder Hey, including the Evans family. Wishing you all calm and cooperative progress.

  • Goodmorning and best wishes to all staff and families at Alder Hey. Wishing you all calm and cooperative progress.

  • In my experience, all NHS staff working in hospitals, such as Alder Hey, set the highest professional standards of care for all of the sick and young people in their charge. I just want you to know that many ordinary people like myself value enormously your compassion and dedication to caring for the sick people in your care. Thank you.

  • Can’t thank you enough how myself and my daughter have been treated in a number of different clinics over the last 8yrs and still on going, staff are always friendly and helpful, especially the staff that work in blood clinic, who had to pull out every trick in the book to get blood out my daughter

  • There are many positives in David and Louise’s statements, let’s build on them together.

  • my grandson had to have life saving operation and alderhay were there and gave all the support thank you all

  • Thank you to all at Alder Hey for taking such good care of my son during his stay in December. Thank you also for the support you gave to my husband and me during his admission.
    I feel sad that patients, families and staff have had to endure this abuse in these sad circumstances. All the staff are wonderful.

  • Well said, hope all this bad feeling ends soon for everyone that is affected by all this horrible non deserving abuse that everyone is getting at Alder Hey, you do a fantastic job!!! Well done

  • Goodafrernoon, Wishing the best to all

  • I’m so sorry to hear that the hospital staff have been criticised and in some cases abused, making it difficult to do their jobs – and requiring police protection. I have known so many children who have been cared for and protected by the staff at Alder Hey, and to suggest they are not doing their best and doing the right thing for this little baby is outrageous. I don’t know the details of this particular young patient – as I’m sure most of the people causing disruption don’t either. Try not to take any notice of any of this and get on doing what you all do best – taking care of children.

  • I have watched this story closely and have throughout been deeply impressed with the dignity, professionalism and humanity shown by Alder Hey staff in this heart breaking case

  • You are all truly amazing keep up the good work , you have all demonstrated you amazing professionalism at this tough time that you should have not been subjected to
    No parent should have to face what Alifes parents have had to face , but unfortunately this happens at times , if only all children could be cured , but unfortunately this is not the case

  • I am appalled by the storm of misinformation, lies and abuse directed at Alder Hey and its staff. I understand that grieving parents may find it impossible to accept that their child is terminally ill but the antics of the mob and the questionable motives of some of the individuals “supporting” those parents are unacceptable. I can only offer my support and gratitude to Alder Hey and its staff for their sterling work in a most difficult area of medicine.

  • David. Louise. Well said.
    It’s heartbreaking that those who strive the hardest to save the lives of our children are the ones in the firing line when a life can’t be saved.
    I’ve spent more time in a children’s hospital than most but less than many and I have never met a single human in all that time that would give up on the life of a child.
    Sometimes there’s nothing that can be done.
    It’s awful but it’s reality.
    I have seen more parents lose children than I ever imagined I would.
    None of them blamed the hospital. They knew everything possible had been done.
    Religion is an irrelevance.

  • Absolutely 100% support Alder Hay hospital the content of this letter and views expressed by Justice Hayden and on behalf of Alder Hay Children’s Hospital. At no point should your work or commitment to the care and well being of children and their best interests have ever been questioned or that of your dedicated staff and personnel. Keep up the excellent work. RIP Alfie Evans.

  • This has been a sad and unfortunate saga. Tragic case.

    However congratulations to the staff at the hospital for their professionalism, diligence and determination to carry on and continue to care for the children and families at this difficult time. Every possible best wish.

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