Mary Welstead, CAP Fellow Harvard Law School; Visiting Professor in Family law University of Buckingham
The case of E illustrates the difficulties confronting a judge when deciding whether a parent or caregiver has reported genuine concerns about a child's health or whether she has feigned or exaggerated symptoms which has led to the child being forced to undergoing unnecessary treatment. It is a particularly hard decision to make when it is indisputable that a child has actually suffered some form of illness during the time period under consideration.
From 2011 until 2020, E's mother reported her to have so many different symptoms that the child was diagnosed with numerous medical conditions and the Fabricated and Induced Illness (FII) procedure was raised. At the Court hearing, Judd J found that that the mother had developed a pattern of exaggerating and sometimes fabricating E's symptoms. As a consequence, E was suffering, and was likely to suffer, significant harm in the future. The threshold criteria of s 37 of the Children Act for a care order had, therefore, been met.
E was currently living with an uncle and aunt and a further hearing to decide her future would take place following the appointment of an expert to carry out an assessment of the situation.