Public Questions NHS Big Brother approach over little cancer patient
A frightened 5 year old lies in a hospital bed, denied visits from his family, whilst his parents languish in jail waiting to hear what are their bail conditions.
Meantime the clock is ticking down on the 4 months doctors say this little boy has left to live.
When the story of Ashya King first broke, (he was suffering from a form of cancer in University Hospital, Southampton), at first public opinion seemed to be on the side of NHS. The Public believed that
when a child was suffering, the NHS would be the body to treat them.
But then public opinion, aided by Social media, comments on TV shows such as The Wright Stuff, and unease that seemed to be expressed by the spokesman for police called in by the hospital to search for the little boy after his father had removed him from hospital – swung the other way.
On YouTube clips, both fatherand brother came over as articulate, and wanting to do the best for the little boy. When they had been told Ashya only had four months to live, most people obviously thought the best place for Ashya was with his family.
Proton Beam Therapy
Brett King, the father, had gone on the Internet to search out possible treatment for his son, and come up with the possibility of using Proton Beam Therapy. This has been talked about in UK for ages; I was at the Britain Against Cancer Conference organised by Parliamentarians in 2008, when it wad discussed. But seven years later, it is still only being used for certain eye conditions.
But in Europe it is fully recognised, and there is an MD Anderson Center offering this in Madrid, Spain.
And the King family went off to Spain – whether to seek treatment, or put their flat on the market to make the money for the treatment, I don’t know – perhaps both. Only to find they were being hounded by the Police of three countries, and finally mother and father King were arrested – to spend the night away from little Ashya.
He as taken to the local hospital, and is now under Police guard, tended by Spanish nurses. Not exactly a happy situation for a five-year-old.
And then the public began to question why the family was being hounded, when it seemed that a sensible father was prepared to sell their flat in Spain to pay for the treatment they wanted for Ashya. Comments that the doctors had not wanted to follow up information on the Internet (dismissing it); questions from others as to why this little boy had been deprived of his parents’ support, and no comment at all from the hospital – not even an outline of why they didn’t think Proton Beam therapy was the right thing – set up huge questions in the publics’ mind.
Added to which the hospital doctors informing Mr. King that Ashya had only 4 months left to live, and one questioned why the authorities had taken away the parents from supporting their sick child.
TUC to call for Government Action
But there is support coming – the giant TUC has become involved.
In a jumpy political season leading up to the next Election, the last thing David Cameron wants is the TUC coming out, all guns blazing, with an issue that will catch the headlines. And call in to question the way the Coalition has handled the beloved NHS.
Society of Radiographers is urging the TUC Congress to support a motion to put pressure on government to increase resources for radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging services.
Britain’s continuing underfunding of radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging services “is completely unacceptable” the TUC Congress will be told.
The Society of Radiographers will call on delegates to put pressure on the government to raise investment in healthcare services to similar levels as other countries in the European Union. Proton therapy treatment, a revolutionary technique to treat cancer, will not be available in the UK until 2018, ten years after it was introduced in Germany. UK patients who need proton therapy now have to travel overseas at a cost of more than £90,000 each.
“The demand for diagnostic services such as magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography is growing but the government has failed to increase funding of equipment and train the staff needed,” commented Paul Moloney, the Society’s trade union and industrial relations manager.
“We will be saying to Congress that this unacceptable state of affairs must be immediately reviewed so that health and care services meet
the needs of the population,” he continued. “The government is not meeting the pledge in the NHS constitution to deliver improved outcomes to patients.”
But what about Ashya?
I really feel for this defenceless little boy. When I came up against NHS arrogance, I was old enough to take matters into my own hands and go abroad when I needed top cancer treatment. Ashya has to rely on his family.