NHS to pay for Ashya King’s treatment

Ashya King and his mother Naghmeh
Ashya King and his mother Naghmeh
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

Picture: Steve Reid

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THE NHS has announced that it will pay for Ashya King’s treatment in Prague.

The five-year-old from Southsea has a brain tumour.

His parents sparked an international police hunt when they removed their son from Southampton General Hospital last month without medical consent.

They took him to the Czech Republic to receive proton beam therapy which was not available for him on the NHS.

However the NHS has now offered to pay for the treatment - despite Derbyshire-based charity Kids n Cancer offering the family the money.

A spokesman for NHS England said: ‘Our thoughts are with Ashya and his family as he begins follow-on radiotherapy.

‘Now that Ashya is in Prague, it is clearly best that Ashya continues to be treated uninterrupted so the NHS has agreed to fund this care, as requested by his parents, in accordance with relevant European cross-border arrangements.

‘We all join in wishing him well, and greatly hope he makes a full and successful recovery.’

Mike Hyman is the founder of Kids n Cancer. He said: ‘Our position is as it was before. Our offer was on the table.

‘I’m pleased that they stepped up because the most important thing is the child’s treatment. I’m not surprised because it’s been a disaster for them.

‘The family representative said to me that if they didn’t need the money, they wanted us to use it to help other children in similar circumstances.’

The NHS funds proton beam therapy abroad ‘whenever it is considered clinically appropriate’.

However, NHS England does not normally fund proton therapy for medulloblastoma – the cancer that Ashya has – because of concern that patients not fit enough to travel would be delayed from receiving radiotherapy and subsequently have a reduced chance of a cure.

Parents Brett and Naghemeh King faced a legal battle to get their child to Prague’s Proton Therapy Centre (PTC) after removing Ashya from hospital, with a High Court judge approving the move after they had been released from police custody in Spain.