Ruby Own is a three-year-old British girl with a big smile. But when she was stricken with brain cancer, that smile got weaker and weaker. Similar smiles faded from her parents' faces when British doctors, part of its socialized medicine system called NHS, told her there was nothing they could for the Ruby.
Couldn't, or wouldn't? That's the question London's Daily Mail asks in an extensive article showing how Ruby and others have been "abandoned" by NHS. Luckily, there's the U.S. Ruby's parents raised enough money for her to get treatment in Indiana, and the young girl is now cancer free.
Ruby is just one of a number of cancer-stricken children who have been effectively abandoned by the NHS, leaving their parents to strive against the odds to raise huge sums to fund life-saving specialist care abroad.
Only yesterday, the Mail revealed how John and Vicky Inglis, from York, raised £400,000 to save their five-year-old son Jamie’s life with a pioneering American cancer therapy. They were convinced his chances would be impossibly low if his treatment was left to the NHS.
It is a shameful reflection on our health care service. And, says Peter Bone, a Tory MP campaigning on behalf of such parents, it’s sadly all too typical of an NHS that has an ‘appalling record’ of not taking up new treatments that are adopted far more quickly in other countries.
But what is even more disturbing is that NHS funding may actually be available to give children these kinds of life-saving care. Some of the treatments are available as part of clinical trials here, while in other cases the NHS pays for children to be treated in Europe and the U.S.
Nevertheless, children often miss out: parents say their youngsters get labelled as too ill to receive specialist care in clinical trials for fear of making the treatment’s success rates look too low, or the families simply live in the wrong postcode to get funds for treatment overseas.
Instead, these parents are told there is nothing more that the NHS can do.