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When will the arrogant NHS learn from its mistakes?

Yet another harrowing medical story hit the front pages.  This time it was the tale of Alfie Evans, following on from Charlie Gard and Ashya King.  Pictures of little Alfie were splashed across the papers, and we read that yet another NHS hospital had gone to court over a case.

Sadly, little Alfie has died, and in the aftermath of this sorry story one can only feel compassion and admiration for the fight that Alfie’s parents put up, disgust at the way the NHS wasted our money fighting the case, and disbelief at the NHS’s assumption that they know best – better than parents – and disregarding a compassionate gesture from The Pope – which might even have produced a miracle.  And yes, I am sceptical too, but there are cases ………

One wonders where was compassion?  When Alder Hay hospital made the decision to remove the little boy’s ventilator, did  no-one in the NHS realise that every parent will believe ‘where there’s life there’s hope‘.  Yet the hospital blocked the parents’ attempts to fly Alfie to Italy where The Pope had arranged specialist care. fly to Rome, so it seems cruel to deny the parents the chance to take Alfie off for treatment, and they will probably always wonder ‘what if? ‘

If for no other reason, taking Alfie abroad would have meant the NHS no longer paying for his care;  the staff at Alder Hay could have got on with treating other children, and whatever the outcome, his parents will know they did everything possible for their sick son.

And perhaps, if it came down from its arrogant mountain of self-belief, the NHS could learn that there is often better health care in Europe.  I remember asking Andrew Lansley, when he was Minister of Health, why the NHS didn’t learn from Europe and have earlier testing for conditions such as Bowel Cancer.  I bet he regrets his reply, “it’s not the NHS way”  now that he has the condition which should have been caught earlier if the NHS had had European standards of testing.

After the case of Ashya King, from Southampton, whose parents were jailed for “abducting” their son from a British hospital in 2014 to seek trailblazing cancer treatment in Europe, one would hope that seeing how healthy this little boy looks today (apparently cancer-free for more than three years) the NHS would have learnt their lesson.  Three years on, this current photo of Aysha in the Daily Mirror, shows a very healthy, happy child, 

After the case, a report recommended that medical professionals communicate with parents better in future.

Huh – somehow this doesn’t seem to be happening, and what is even worse, public anger has spilled over so that hospital staff and other patients and their families being treated at Alder Hay have been threatened by angry protesters.  Whatever has the NHS come to?

Alder Hay and the NHS should shed their arrogance, and realise they DON’T know everything.  Once an NHS hospital has said there is no hope for a child, any caring parent should have the right to do what’s best for their child, as long as it doesn’t cause the child pain.

OK – the Bambino Gesù hospital has had problems recently, but don’t deny parents hope.  Why doesn’t the NHS co-operate with foreign hospitals that have the goodness to offer treatment, when children are terminally ill, and learn from this.  It would be good if, the next time a foreign hospital offers to treat a UK citizen in similar circumstances, the NHS fund a nurse or doctor to accompany the patient, and take notes.  If someone from the NHS had accompanied Aysha, think what they could have learnt to help others when Britain FINALLY gets its first Proton Beam Therapy machine.


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