The parents of missing Portsmouth boy Ashya King were allowed to take him off a hospital ward, it was revealed today.
Health officials have said Ashya King, five, from Southsea, was in a serious condition and needed medical supervision.
A spokeswoman for Southampton General Hospital said Ashya, who has a brain tumour and had surgery seven days ago, was a long-term patient.
She said: ‘Ashya was a long-term patient who was permitted to leave the ward under the supervision of his parents as part of his ongoing rehabilitation.
‘When the length of time he had been absent became a cause of concern to staff yesterday afternoon they contacted police after a search of the site and attempts to contact the family were unsuccessful.’
The boy was reported missing to police at 8.35pm after he was taken from the hospital at 2.15pm yesterday.
Questions have been raised over the more than six-hour delay but Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said the force’s focus was on finding the boy.
The hospital spokeswoman added: ‘Ashya has a serious condition that requires constant medical supervision and treatment.
Following his removal from hospital by his parents yesterday, clinical and security staff referred the incident to Hampshire Police.
‘We continue to work closely with them to support the search and investigation and have provided a comprehensive detailed medical report on Ashya to ensure any hospital he is taken to can provide the care he requires immediately.’
The family boarded a ferry to Cherbourg from Portsmouth at 4pm yesterday.
His brother has posted an emotional message on YouTube.