Interesting about proton beam therapy for cancer in Prague

That the NHS does not do this but it is available in the Czech Republic:

Here in Prague, ordinary Czechs are horrified. On social media there is talk of little else. No one can understand why any child would be denied access to this state-of-the-art clinic – which was opened two years ago and built at a cost of £30 million by telecommunication tycoon brothers Pavel and Vaclav Lastovka, who had a relative cured of cancer using proton therapy in the US – and were determined fellow Europeans should be able to access the treatment.

Whether they’re money grubbing entrepreneurs or it’s a charitable foundation, still, interesting that a much (and it is *much*) poorer country has more advanced treatment, no?

Initially sceptical, their doctors agreed to approve the therapy as long as the family’s insurance company paid the bill, which it agreed to do.

Oh. Look at that. The Czech Republic works on something like the French system. A part of your wages is paid to an insurance company which then organises your health care.

Of course, as absolutely everyone knows, this is obviously, must be, much worse than the NHS.

BTW, CR has one of the best lung cancer survival rates in the world…..

 

 

34 comments on “Interesting about proton beam therapy for cancer in Prague

  1. Wikipedia on proton beam therapy:

    “A 2009 systematic review found that “No comparative study reported statistically significant or important differences in overall or cancer-specific survival or in total serious adverse events.”[1][2]

    So perhaps the NHS is right on this one.

  2. A buddy of mine smashed his hip up falling off a mountain in Romania. To cut a long story short, he found the British medical establishment didn’t have the skills to perform an operation which would have enabled him to carry on an active life, and were insisting he undergo an operation which would have left him with a pronounced limp. By chance he happened to bump into an Austrian doctor on the street who told him that much more advanced operations were carried out as a matter of course in Austria and Germany, and so after shopping around on the continent he took himself there and got operated on. His British doctors were livid, and had fully intended to deny him the opportunity of a proper fix in order to protect their own egos.

  3. I think the whole point of this treatment is that it isn’t as indiscriminate in destroying healthy cells as the ‘traditional’ one. This is particularly important for young patients.

    Don’t ask for details though, because I don’t know them.

  4. I’m surprised it’s taken you this long to comment on this story Timmy. The story broke because a doctor in a position of near monopoly threatened someone who disagreed with him with removing that person’s child from them. Then when that person escaped from that doctor’s “care” they sent the full force of the state to chase them down and branded them as child neglecters.

    The envy of the world, we’re so lucky.

  5. Note how this story changed massively from one day to the next. First, it was an ‘abduction’, with the added smear that they were religious loonies (of a definitely unprotected sort) who had removed their son from the care he so desperately needed and was going to get.

    Then overnight it seemed to change completely. Police backtracking, CPS saying ‘bollocks’, smears about religion mysteriously disappearing. It worries me that our media seems to be some sort of hive mind.

  6. The point is not to increase survival, rather to avoid the side effects of radiotherapy with X-rays. NHS behind the times again.

  7. “Then overnight it seemed to change completely. Police backtracking, CPS saying ‘bollocks’, smears about religion mysteriously disappearing. It worries me that our media seems to be some sort of hive mind.”

    It is no mystery why the story changed. The media is not necessarily a hive mind, but it is gullible and just repeated whatever the NHS/plod told them verbatim with a few more adjectives thrown in.

    Then the suspects made a video that could be viewed freely and explained the situation from their PoV in an entirely rational way and it was clear they were simply loving parents and whether or not they were doing the entirely correct thing they were certainly nothing like the description we had been given so far.

    We hear/ talk about trial by media and this makes it entirely transparent what it means. it is only due to the fact that the parents are nice/middle class/well spoken/a bit media savvy / social media capable (with the help of their older children) that they eventually got the support they did. Had they been chavs or not had any social media ability they would currently be rotting in a Spanish jail while their son dies alone and everyone back in Blighty thinking “thank God those two nutters are now behind bars”.

  8. I suppose that, if you had a child with a brain tumour, you’d soon get up to speed on the risks and rewards of various treatments, survival rates, quality of life, etc. I know I would.

    These days I expect nearly everyone has a quick look on the internet before visiting their GP. A lot of doctors hate this approach. The irony is that doctors have much to gain from cooperative medicine. Patients actually take their meds, for example.

  9. The real story here is the erosion of trust in the NHS. Is anyone comfortable to believe what they’re told? After N.Staffs, Liverpool Pathway etc? Yet this is the organisation we’re obliged to put trust in.

  10. Rob,

    PS it shows the importance of driving the narrative of a story. Get your story straight, get it out early, repeat it often.

    It’s exactly how the politicos work and why we always get stories in the press along the lines of “Later today the PM will make a speech in which he will say…” It puts your story out ahead of the game before the opposition can respond. These parents were lucky they could use social media to their advantage I expect most people accused of a crime can’t/aren’t allowed to put their side of the story out and so the narrative is driven by the state and the media, who just love a bad guy.

  11. The lead paediatrician at Southampton has now been allowed to explain the doctors’ actions.

    CR has one of the best lung cancer survival rates in the world

    Where did you get that from? The recent Eurocare survey has 5-year lung cancer survival n the Czech Republic below the European average. (The UK is worse.)

  12. PaulB,

    “Speaking to the Guardian, Wilson said doctors caring for Ashya had been misrepresented and he categorically denied that they had at any point threatened the parents with removing their rights over decisions about their son’s treatment.”

    Sorry, but I don’t believe him. I suspect this is exactly what happened, which is why they took him out of the ward rather than discharging him.

    If I had to go into any confrontational situation with any teacher or doctor regarding my kids, I’d have my voice recorder on.

  13. @TheStigler: the doctor wouldn’t even have to threaten it, the parents would know, the doctor would know they know. A typical lawyer driven answer, in that it may be technically correct, but the meaning at the time would have been made very clear – we can take your kid away from you if you cause a fuss.

  14. @Rob

    ‘First, it was an ‘abduction’, with the added smear that they were religious loonies (of a definitely unprotected sort)’

    Yes – where is Dave?

  15. My favourite bit of that Guardian article is where I discover that the NHS has something called ‘the gold standard treatment protocol’. we must bear in mind that these people use words to obfuscate, not to explain.

  16. The NHS intend to introduce proton beam therapy by 2018 or so. I am intrigued at the cost for the Czech centre being £30 million. The NHS will be funding two centres in London and Manchester at a cost of at least £250 million. Perhaps they will be bigger centres treating more people (expected to treat 1500 combined a year).

    The parents being Jehovah’s Witnesses might the NHS already have been in a heightened state of alert?

    I think a key problem for the NHS was an assumption that the parents couldn’t look after their child outside the hospital, when in fact they could (and likely wouldn’t have told the hospital about their preparations because it would have been obvious what they were about to do).

    The hospital laid it on thick that the child would be in mortal danger outside the hospital which was used to justify making the child a ward of court (presumably with no-one there to explain the parents’ motivations and preparations?) and the subsequent European Arrest Warrant.

  17. No one in an official position trusts us, who are coerced by the tax system into keeping them where they can decide what is best. They mistrust the private sector where initiative, flexibility and indepent thought are a direct rebuke to everything they have embraced in furthering their careers and feathering their nests.

  18. Gareth: I think the £30m number is just the Telegraph making stuff up. This report, based on a presentation by the people responsible for the funding, says the Czech facility cost “over 150 million euros” – £120m say.

    The parents being Jehovah’s Witnesses might the NHS already have been in a heightened state of alert?

    I suspect that the parents will have already been in a heightened state of alert. They will have given consent to the surgery: it’s plausible (but I’m guessing) that they said no to any blood transfusion, as their religion demands, and reluctantly changed their minds when threatened by the surgeon with a court order.

    So when the disagreement about radiotherapy arose, the conversation went much as Dr Wilson describes, but it sounded like another threat to the Kings.

    Interested:

    the NHS has something called ‘the gold standard treatment protocol’…

    This is a standard bit of medical jargon, used in the USA as well as the UK, for the best current treatment. It wouldn’t have occurred to the doctor that its meaning might be unclear.

  19. ” the NHS has something called ‘the gold standard treatment protocol’…

    This is a standard bit of medical jargon, used in the USA as well as the UK, for the best current treatment.”

    Get real Paul. That’ll be the medical jargon for any treatment. Superlatives are the default setting for public sector services.
    Prizes will be awarded for any organisation found not describing itself as “Delivering Excellence”

  20. “Get real Paul. That’ll be the medical jargon for any treatment. ”

    Not in my experience. The jargon is certainly trotted without much, um, critical, analytical thought, but it’s not dished out to any old treatment. Though it may be for the media, I suppose.

  21. b(n)is: no, it means the best current treatment. It’s not an NHS management thing, it’s medical terminology, used extensively in the scientific literature, in the USA as well as the UK. Try googling gold standard treatment.

  22. Is that blood transfusion thing a central pillar of the faith? I doubt it, on the grounds that it would hardly stand a collision with necessity.

    Anyway, NHS thinks it’s dealing with loonies, turns out these “loonies” are pretty switched on. Ten years ago the loonies used to threaten me with hellfire. Last Sunday they just gave me a small leaflet with a link to their website. Meek as Christians they were.

  23. Isn’t it unusual for a doctor to speak publicly about a patient’s medical condition? Patient confidentiality and all that?

    If a parent had made some details public about a child protection case they’d be in trouble.

  24. “It’s medical terminology.”
    Goes with home insulation terminology, retail extended warranty terminology & life insurance terminology then.
    You can always tell when someone’s trying to sell you something.

  25. The Stigler
    Speaking to the Guardian, Wilson said doctors caring for Ashya had been misrepresented and he categorically denied that they had at any point threatened the parents with removing their rights over decisions about their son’s treatment.
    Then, in the same Guardian piece, the doctors admit just that: ‘The parents asked if we refused any treatment for our child, what would happen to us? What was explained to them was that in certain circumstances, if a parent was to refuse treatment on behalf of their child and it was felt that would be putting the child at risk, we would consider going to the court.’

  26. dearime said: “Not in my experience. The jargon is certainly trotted without much, um, critical, analytical thought, but it’s not dished out to any old treatment. Though it may be for the media, I suppose.”

    I think it is used by the NHS to convince themselves that they are doing what is considered the current most effective procedure/treatment. This may lead to a somewhat closed mind about things the NHS doesn’t offer and also about how appropriate the ‘gold standard’ is for individual patients.

  27. @PaulB

    I don’t doubt it’s medical terminology – a large number of medical bureaucrats shading into doctors are cunts, after all.

    My point really is that there is nothing wrong with using plain English, as in ‘the best treatment available’.

    It’s the very usage of less than plain English which gives them away.

  28. It’s the very usage of less than plain English which gives them away.

    This is gibbering paranoia. Every trade has jargon which enables it to speak precisely. That doesn’t mean they’re all conspiring against the public.

    It thought it too obvious to be wordy about, but “gold standard treatment” carries the implication, which my gloss of it does not, that it’s the standard treatment, against which other options are to be evaluated.

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