British Parents Jailed by Nationalized Health Service for Trying to Sell Home to Pay for Son’s Cancer Treatment

(p. A4) . . . , no Briton is ever entirely happy with the taxpayer-funded service, and now the case of a 5-year-old boy with a brain tumor has thrown a harsh light on the $170 billion-a-year system.
Critics are asking whether the service was justified in refusing a cancer treatment for the boy, Ashya King, sought by his desperate parents in an effort to save his life, and whether it overstepped in trying to impose its decision on his family.
The refusal set off a chain of events that enthralled and horrified the British public, as Ashya’s parents removed their son from University Hospital Southampton in England on Aug. 28 without the consent of British doctors, setting off a highly publicized international hunt. Concern for the child, however, turned into public outrage when the parents, Brett and Naghemeh King, were arrested and jailed in Madrid, where they had traveled to sell their holiday home so they could pay for the treatment, called proton beam therapy.
. . .
“They treated us like terrorists,” Mr. King, 51, said during an emotional news conference in Spain, where he and his wife were held for three days, separated from their critically ill son, as British authorities pursued University Hospital Southampton’s recommendation that Ashya be made a ward of the court.
. . .
(p. A10) Professor Hunter . . . said that, because the health service is publicly accountable, doctors tend to be reluctant to recommend innovative solutions for fear of lawsuits if things go wrong.
Mrs. Anderton, too, said that, despite the excellent care her son received, the N.H.S. is not always at the cutting edge. “The only downside is that we don’t have advanced types of treatments that could be lifesaving,” she said.

For the full story, see:
KIMIKO DE FREYTAS-TAMURA. “Health Care for Britain in Harsh Light.” The New York Times (Weds., SEPT. 17, 2014): A4 & A10.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 16, 2014.)

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