Areas of Expertise (8)
Adult Decisions on Child Healthcare
Patients Best Interests
Children’s Medical Treatment
Dr Giles Birchley is based within Bristol's Centre for Ethics in Medicine where his research explores how decisions made by adults (parents, family members and doctors) affect the medical treatment of children. This includes the meaning and application of the legal concept of “best interests” within clinical practice, bioethics and the law. Dr Birchley also examines the issue of medical tourism (the treatment of children abroad in order to overcome domestic restrictions on medical practices).
He spent his earlier career in children’s intensive care nursing and is a trustee of the UK Clinical Ethics Network, and a member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Ethics and Law Advisory Committee.
Finalist (with colleagues from SPHERE project) for National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement “Engage” Award
Joint winner (with colleagues from the Centre for Ethics in Medicine) of University of Bristol Public Engagement Award.
2015 - 2016
Joint Winner of the Philosophy of Nursing Postgraduate Essay Prize
University of Bristol: Ph.D., Ethics in Medicine 2015
University of Bristol: M.Sc., Healthcare Ethics and Law 2010
University of the West of England: B.Sc., Children's Critical Care 2007
- Member, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Ethics and Law Advisory Committee
- Trustee, UK Clinical Ethics Network
- Member, Child Health Ethics and Law Special Interest Group
Media Appearances (3)
Charlie Gard's parents must accept difficult reality facing them, say medical experts
Belfast Live online
Dr Giles Birchley, senior research associate in surgical innovation and bioethics at the University of Bristol, said "only the most desperate cases reach the courts". He said: "It is natural to reach out to that child's poor parents, whose suffering is dreadful. But putting any terminally ill child through an experimental treatment which cannot make them better will not help either that child or their parents. It will only prolong that child's hurt and suffering."
Praying for a miracle: Parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard visit church as battle to save him continues
Dr Giles Birchley, senior research associate in surgical innovation and bioethics at the University of Bristol, said 'only the most desperate cases reach the courts'. He said: 'It is natural to reach out to that child's poor parents, whose suffering is dreadful. But putting any terminally ill child through an experimental treatment which cannot make them better will not help either that child or their parents. It will only prolong that child's hurt and suffering.'
Life or death medical decisions involving a child – new study asks questions about current process
Medical Xpress online
Dr Giles Birchley, the study's lead author and Senior Research Associate in Surgical Innovation and Bioethics in the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol, found that parents and clinicians viewed children's interests differently in decision-making.
Conceptualising Surgical Innovation: An Eliminativist ProposalHealth Care Analysis
2020 Improving surgical interventions is key to improving outcomes. Ensuring the safe and transparent translation of such improvements is essential. Evaluation and governance initiatives, including the IDEAL framework and the Macquarie Surgical Innovation Identification Tool have begun to address this.
Working with Research Integrity—Guidance for Research Performing Organisations: The Bonn PRINTEGER StatementScience and Engineering Ethics
2018 This document presents the Bonn PRINTEGER Consensus Statement: Working with Research Integrity—Guidance for research performing organisations. The aim of the statement is to complement existing instruments by focusing specifically on institutional responsibilities for strengthening integrity. It takes into account the daily challenges and organisational contexts of most researchers.
Charlie Gard and the weight of parental rights to seek experimental treatmentJournal of Medical Ethics
2018 The case of Charlie Gard, an infant with a genetic illness whose parents sought experimental treatment in the USA, brought important debates about the moral status of parents and children to the public eye. After setting out the facts of the case, this article considers some of these debates through the lens of parental rights.
‘…What God and the Angels Know of us?’ Character, Autonomy, and best Interests in Minimally Conscious StateMedical Law Review
2018 Determining the best interests of incapacitated patients has been observed to be an opaque area of the law, and this is no less so in decisions about the (non-)treatment of patients in the minimally conscious state. A systematic examination of the way best interests are used in judgments relating to this population suggests that narratives involving the character of the patient frequently form an important plank of judicial reasoning.
Seeking Certainty? Judicial Approaches to the (Non-)Treatment of Minimally Conscious PatientsMedical Law Review
2017 A modest, but growing, body of case law is developing around the (non-)treatment of patients in the minimally conscious state. We sought to explore the approaches that the courts take to these decisions. Using the results of a qualitative analysis, we identify five key features of the rulings to date.