Spare a thought for Neon’s mum, who is still fighting against the forced treatment of her son in Britain.
She might have given the lad a better start in life by naming her boy Fred, or Harry, or Jack, or something blokey. Anything but Neon (or Electra for his sister).
It’s too late for that.
But the Kiwi mum who lost a battle to prevent the British health service giving her son radiation therapy for a brain tumour is not waving the surrender flag yet.
She says (here) the treatment was worse than she feared.
Sally Roberts, from Auckland, said the effects on Neon were devastating.
“He is fragile and generally wants to hide away from the world,” she told the Herald on Sunday this week.
“My outgoing, bubbly son has been made a political example of and is now suffering the side effects I so dreaded. Poor memory, nausea, emotionally unstable, hair loss, weight loss.
“He is like a frightened animal, with these big human beings doing ghastly things to him under the pretence it is in his best interests.”
The story is pretty well known by now.
Neon was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October last year. It was surgically removed but the National Health Service said he needed x-ray radiation and chemotherapy to ensure the cancer was destroyed.
But Roberts said the treatment was an unproven trial programme, extremely aggressive and could damage Neon beyond repair, or lead to premature death.
The Greens won’t want to know the next bit of the story, as told in the HoS today.
Roberts, who raised Neon and his twin sister Electra on organic foods, wanted alternative or less invasive orthodox treatments.
Obviously, bringing up your kids on organic tucker is not as good for them as the Greens would tell you.
But that is to digress.
Her request for alternative or less drastic treatment was refused and she went on the lam with Neon, sparking a nationwide police hunt.
The NHS gained court backing and Neon started six weeks of x-ray radiation and chemotherapy on January 10.
Roberts said parents should decide what was best for their children, which seems like a good idea, except that if you were a kid needing surgery and/or a blood transfusion, and your parents happened to be Jehovah’s Witnesses (see here), you would think otherwise.
Roberts has vowed to keep fighting. “With legal aid denied, I have set up an emergency appeal to raise urgent funds. It is now not the cancer he is fighting, but the painful and life threatening side effects,” she said.
Maybe she should come home to New Zealand.
And maybe she should have a crack at whistling in a Maori healer, now that Maori healers are considered worthy of public funding support to the tune of $1.9 million or some such a year.
Whether any treatment offered by a Maori healer would do any good is neither here nor there, because it doesn’t look like the court-approved treatment in the UK is doing Neon any good.
The important thing is that Ministry of Health doesn’t much care about the outcomes, something that Winston Peters recently drew to our attention (here).
Traditional Maori healing organisations receive annual Government funding of about $1.9 million despite the Ministry of Health not knowing how many patients they have or how effective the treatments are.
New Zealand First leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says information obtained from Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia reveals a glaring lack of transparency over funding for the Rongoa Maori traditional healing service.
“The Health Ministry doesn’t know how many individual patients the 15 Rongoa Maori service providers it funds actually has. They only know that there were 57,000 ‘client contacts” made in the four years from 2007-08 to 2010-11.
“There are also no statistics kept on the success rate in ‘healing patients’ so how can the Government justify dishing out about $7.6 million to these alternative healers?”
“That equates to about $130 for each ‘client contact’. There is no way this should be part of the Government’s health budget.”
So Neon’s mum could try this form of treatment for her son, and be fairly confident that if it came to another court battle, she would have all of Maoridom behind her, and probably the Waitangi Tribunal.
The Crown is unlikely to challenge the Maori healers, actually, because The Boss thinks they are doing a good job (see here).
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In respect of Mrs Tariana Turia, how can he have confidence in this Associate Minister of Health, given that she has paid $7.6 million in public money to traditional Māori healers over the last 4 years without being able to provide a shred of evidence that the treatment works?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not believe that to be correct in so much as the contracts are regularly monitored by the Ministry of Health, most providers provide reports against those contracts every 6 months, the contracted providers are also audited by the ministry through a mix of desk-based audits and visits, and, if we look at the number of people who have received those services over that period of time, in broad terms it adds up to a touch over 50,000 individuals.
Mr SPEAKER: The right honourable Prime Minister, supplementary question. Sorry, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, supplementary question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I always thought you were a soothsayer. How can the Prime Minister support a policy that sees the taxpayer forking out $130 per client contact for something that the practitioners say may be no more than a service such as, to use their words, “as simple as a smile”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think what the member is referring to is rongoā services, which are used by clients for a number of different reasons but are in line with Māori culture. They can include everything from therapy right through to massage. In fact, that is not unique to Māori. We also provide significant funding for chaplaincy services, and I assume the member is not telling New Zealanders that he thinks that when someone is potentially on their deathbed in a hospital, they should not receive the support that they might receive from a chaplain, in their final days.
Dunno what the chaplains think about that comparison.
Haven’t heard them claim to be faith healers.
On the other hand, they don’t need the Maori Party’s support like The Boss does.