It’s time to add to our collection of horror stories from the U.K.’s government-run healthcare system (previous examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
What makes today’s story different, though, is that the bureaucracy not only is denying care to a small child, but also seeking to prevent the family from seeking treatment elsewhere.
Check out these excerpts from a blood-chilling story in USA Today.
The parents of a child suffering from a severe brain tumor signaled Monday they would defy efforts to force them to return to Britain, days after their family fled.
So why did they feel the need to escape a presumably civilized nation?
It seems government-run healthcare isn’t exactly on the cutting edge when it comes to life-saving treatments.
The family had fled to Spain in hopes of selling a property to obtain enough cash for a new treatment in the Czech Republic or the United States they hope will help their child. Police pursued them and issued an arrest warrant on suspicion of neglect after Southampton General Hospital realized their patient — Ashya King, 5 — was gone, without their consent. British authorities have made no apology for the warrant.
The case has riveted Britain, which is proud of a health service that offers universal care.
Maybe Brits are proud of their NHS, which would be a poor reflection on the collective IQ of the nation, but it certainly doesn’t offer universal care.
Unless, of course, you include neglect and torture in your definition of care.
Now back to our main story.
…the saga has…raised volatile questions of how much power authorities should have in interfering in some of the most sensitive of questions — and whether it has the right to insist that treatment dictates be followed. …Television images have shown the Kings being loaded into a Spanish squad car in handcuffs. When asked by the BBC on their views, the couple told the reporter they are just trying to help their child. …The family has criticized Britain’s health care system, saying he has a serious tumor that needs an advanced treatment option called proton beam therapy and that it wasn’t being made available to him. …Unlike other types of cancer treatment, it doesn’t indiscriminately kill surrounding healthy tissue, so there could be fewer long term effects.
But fear not. If little Ashya can somehow hold on until 2018, maybe the bureaucrats will be able to help.
Britain’s health department announced in 2011 it will build two treatment centers to make proton beam therapy available in London and Manchester from 2018. Until those facilities open, Britain will pay for patients eligible for the therapy to go to the USA and Switzerland for treatment. It wasn’t immediately clear why health care officials didn’t make this option available to Aysha.
As a parent, I know I would break the law if faced with the same situation.
It’s outrageous and disgusting, though, that such laws even exist.
P.S. I don’t mean to pick on the United Kingdom. We also have horror stories about government-run healthcare in the United States.