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Ashya father tells of care fears

The father of Ashya King has claimed the family felt unable to tell UK doctors their feelings because they feared he would be taken into care.

Brett King told the Daily Mirror doctors at Southampton General Hospital had told him they would "take my son away" if he questioned them over the five-year-old's treatment for brain cancer.

It comes as the chief executive of the NHS Trust which runs the hospital, Fiona Dalton, revealed staff in its oncology unit had received abuse from members of the public and their phone lines had been "overwhelmed" with calls.

Mr King, 51, and his wife Naghmeh, 45, triggered an international police pursuit when they removed Ashya from hospital without doctors' permission on August 28, in a bid to take him to the Czech Republic for proton therapy.

Ashya is now due for treatment at the Proton Therapy Centre Czech (PTC) in Prague after a protracted legal battle over his care that saw his parents arrested in Spain and separated from him for several days.

Speaking about doctors in the UK, Mr King told the Mirror: "They said to me if I question anything and ask questions as a father, they would take my son away from me. Not just for the treatment but until he was 16.

"So I said 'I wouldn't be able to see my son for 11 years'. I said to my wife 'this is something so serious that our son could be taken away until he is 16'.

"Eleven years without us, he wouldn't know his parents, his brothers, his sisters or anyone. We couldn't question them any more. We couldn't let them know our feelings because one mistake on our side and they'd take him away."

The hospital did not comment on the claims but the paper quoted a source who said they refuted the allegation.

In a bi-monthly blog post yesterday, Ms Dalton said: "During the past week I have got to know some of the Southampton paediatric oncology team very well. I have been humbled by their compassion, fortitude and forensic attention to detail under pressure.

"When their email inboxes were full of personal abuse from strangers, and there were journalists camped on their front door, they were still worrying about how we could do the best thing for a small boy in Spain.

"Our switchboard and patient support services were overwhelmed with calls from irate members of the public.

"And many other people working here were being questioned by patients or the public about this situation, sometimes in a very aggressive way."

But she added she was pleased Ashya was now getting treatment for his condition, albeit a treatment not available on the NHS.

"I know that everyone shares my relief that Ashya is now in Prague Motol Hospital, where he will be able to receive the treatment that he needs," she said.

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