CONTROVERSY surrounds the actions of Brett and Naghemeh King who have taken their youngest son, Aysha to Spain in a bid to get the best medical treatment available for their son.
While solicitors debate the rights and wrongs of the Kings’ actions a judge will have to decide their ultimate fate meanwhile they are languishing in a foreign jail for the next 48 hours (probably still will be by the time you read this blog) separated from their son who is in a Spanish hospital in a stable condition but very probably frightened being on his own.
This is not a black and white issue of people ignoring medical advice because they want an obscure treatment they have read about on the web for their son. These are two obviously devoted parents desperate to get the best treatment they can for their ill child and they believe they have found an alternative to that offered by the NHS.
Proton Beam treatment is not commonly available here in the UK on the NHS. The NHS has paid for patients to be treated overseas at a cost of between £20,000 and £100,000 per person. The Kings have pleaded with the doctors at Southampton Hospital to give their son the treatment - not for a life saving cure but to give him a better quality of life.
Faced with a refusal they have done what most parents would have done and sought options overseas. With six other children to think of, they obviously have a lot of demands on their resources, yet the family is united in wanting to give Aysha the best care he can have. The Kings are more than happy to make the financial sacrifices the treatment will have and travel to the Proton Therapy Centre in the Czech Republic. At a cost of somewhere between £60,000 and £80,000 it is going to be a drain on the family but to the Kings that is not the priority, yet the NHS still refuse them permission to take their son overseas for treatment and have had him made a ward of court.
Given the gravity of their son’s illness and the fact that the treatment will probably prolong and improve his quality of life then surely the NHS should start listening to their views.
This sad impasse has come about because the NHS realised the Kings were determined to get the best treatment they could for Aysha and would do anything to access it. Faced with the honesty the parents presented, that they would tale their child from hospital care in the UK, Hampshire County Council successfully applied to have Aysha made a ward of court. Effectively they have criminalised Brett and Nehemeh King, denied Aysha access to his parents and imprisoned him in a UK hospital, had his parents chosen to accede to their demands.
We are now faced with the absurd situation where a senior police officer has to justify his actions in being heavy handed with two clearly loving parents and dis-charge his duties of enforcing a wardship that seems to have little public support.
The NHS doctors are portrayed as mean for denying him treatment when if truth be known they may be quite happy for him to go overseas, but the local authority chose another route.
The whole system seems in a shambles and all because the state is trying to intervene in a perfectly normal human situation where parents want the best for their child. That is normal and any human being would understand that.
Parents know their children best and all children from tots to teenagers want to be with their parents. They have little awareness of their own mortality their main frame of reference is being with an individual they love and they know loves them – mum and dad.
In all probability Aysha has little real time left to him. His older brother has almost admitted as much but said that the most important thing for the family was that what time Aysha was had was quality time.
Quality time can hardly be in a foreign hospital surrounded by strangers. It could be with his mum and dad at home in the UK after treatment for his condition, enjoying some time with his doting family, left alone by an increasingly interfering nanny state that is becoming isolated for misplaced priorities.
Social care can be hugely beneficial when used to improve the life of the individual cast on its mercy. When it assumes responsibility for a situation it has little grasp of then it becomes draconian, abused and misplaced.
For all our developed world values, we should never lose sight of the fact that families have the best interests of their loved ones at heart. There are genuine cases of neglect, this doesn’t appear to be one of them and maybe the authorities involved should invest their energies in addressing those rather than penalising people who genuinely love their own children.
We need to stop punishing parents for caring, concentrate on real cases of hardship and need to improve our whole society not deprive a young child of the two people who genuinely love him.
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