There was a news headline yesterday which really made me think : last year, parents of a young boy with cancer took him out of hospital, without authorisation, to take him overseas for cancer treatment. Earlier this year we heard that he had gone to Prague where he had received treatment that NHS does not offer and that he was now free of cancer! But yesterday, the NHS had investigated and was critical of their behaviour, saying that they put their son’s life at risk.
I can really empathise with those parents : who amongst us, would not do the same thing in their heart-breaking situation? I for one would! If my son was not being offered the very best of care or treatment and was terminally ill, I would move heaven and earth to give him every opportunity. I do not know all of the details of this case but if I was not being offered some life-saving treatment in my local hospital and I knew of an alternative, I too would ‘steal’ Joshua away in the night!
The conclusion of the NHS investigation sounded as though the parents were not offered a second opinion and so I can imagine that the relationship between them and their oncologist had broken down, that they were not getting the answers and options that they sought. I know that our children are not our possessions, we have no more right than NHS to ‘play with their lives’ but I am sure they did not remove him from hospital lightly, it sounds to me like the act of desperate parents who simply wanted the best for their son.
BUt it has to be said, in the time that it has taken the NHS to investigate this case, the boy has been overseas, received treatment and been pronounced cured, all while senior managers within NHS were discussing these naughty parents! My sympathy wholly lies with them , even though I appreciate that it is not a good precedent to set. There is a risk that this case will encourage other foolhardy parents to take the same action if things in their hospital are not going their way and that could be dangerous, of course.
In the 15 years since I was pregnant with and then gave birth to Joshua, I have more contact with NHS than I expected to have – Joshua and I were at an occupational therapy assessment in hospital yesterday, when surgery to straighten out his wrist and elbow was recommended, so that sounds like more appointments, more general anaesthetic, more overnight stays and more rehabilitation. I appreciate that we as parents have to trust that NHS is doing the best that they can for our children, but this trust can often be shaken and it does have to be earned, it does not mean that they have the divine right to do whatever they like to our children, as often a cost consideration will come into play within NHS, which will not even occur to parents. We, as parents, simply want the best possible care for our precious children and so , if we have to break some rules to get that care, then so be it – the child’s interests must always come first.