The Ashya King story gets more depressing by the day.
And today’s radio interview with his father Brett was the most depressing yet.
Brett King admitted that Ashya doesn’t have long to live now. I am not surprised to find this out and yet I had believed, perhaps naively and more in hope, that somehow this might not be a terminal illness, no matter how serious an aggressive stage four brain tumour sounds. You wouldn’t travel halfway round the world and try and sell your own house in order to pay for treatment that would, at best, extend Ashya’s life for an undefined though obviously short period, would you? Or maybe you would, desperate to see your child survive, you would do exactly that, perhaps not taking into account the effects this would have on your wife and other five children? It’s not a good time for rational thought, that’s for sure.
The hospital gave a press conference too and it is clear that their version of events does not entirely match Mr King’s, not because anyone has lied or tried to mislead but that the failures in this case are systemic. The inference was that Mr King did not interpret what the hospital was saying in the right way. Maybe that is all true but it doesn’t help anyone now.
My fear is that the public mood, currently overwhelmingly supportive of the family, will change as the waters become muddier still. Each statement from the different parties could serve to polarise opinions. Look at what happened with the McCanns, and still happens to this day. People need to talk and quickly but more importantly Ashya needs to get the treatment that’s best for him.
When it’s all over, there simply has to be a far-reaching inquiry to examine everything that has happened. Not for the negative apportioning of blame or scapegoating but to ensure situations like this don’t happen again. The rush to arrest, the conflicting statements, the type of NHS treatment that is available and how families can be better supported – all of it.
The King family motivation was noble, to seek the best possible treatment for their seriously ill child. They are not bad people, kidnappers or criminals. We none of us can honestly say that we wouldn’t do the same thing if we were confronted with a similar crisis. If their decisions were irrational, as it seems they may have been, explain to me how to behave rationally when you see before you an unfolding tragedy with one of your own?
One way or another it will all end in tears but in the long term there should be lessons we all of us can learn.