NHS bosses agree to pay for cancer boy's Germany surgery after British hospitals delayed operation twice
The NHS has agreed to cover the costs of a mother who was forced to fly her son to Germany for cancer surgery after British hospitals delayed his operation twice.
Seven-year-old Zac Knighton-Smith’s family spent about 10,000 to send him abroad to remove three tumours, as the Mail revealed earlier this month.
Yesterday, his mother Sam Knighton, 43, said: ‘The NHS has agreed to fund our travel expenses and surgery costs, which is a great relief as we have already spent a fortune.’
Recovery: Zac Knighton-Smith whose family spent about 10,000 to send him abroad to remove three tumours
But she added: ‘There’s no way they would have done it without the publicity from the Daily Mail.’
Zac, of Rushden, Northamptonshire, flew out to Germany on January 9 for surgery.
He had been due to have the cancerous lymph nodes removed in Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre on December 22, but the surgery was delayed until January 19 as there were no paediatric beds available there.
Miss Knighton feared it would be dangerous to wait that long, and so the operation was rescheduled for January 4 at Leicester Royal Infirmary – but was cancelled half an hour before the family were due to make their way to the hospital, again because of a lack of paediatric beds.
In desperation, former advertising executive Miss Knighton, who has taken Zac to Germany in the past for treatment, phoned his consultant there who agreed to operate as soon as possible.
Seven-year-old Zac Knighton-Smith suffers from neuroblastoma, which affects the developing nerve cells of children
She flew out with Zac and her partner, Bob Smith, so the boy could get treatment at the University Hospital Greifswald, a specialist centre for neuroblastoma, the form of cancer with which Zac was diagnosed.
Zac is expected to make a full recovery, but the disease could recur at any time.
Speaking to the Mail from Greifswald, Miss Knighton said the family were flying back to England on Friday, adding: ‘I just think it’s a shame it came to this.
'Perhaps if the NHS used the money to provide better facilities in the UK, they wouldn’t have to fund expensive trips like this.’
Zac began showing symptoms in October 2008. He was given the all-clear last February, but a scan in May in Germany showed three tumours in his abdomen.
Northamptonshire NHS spokesman Tony Delaney said Zac’s case did not set a precedent, explaining: ‘There is a history of cooperation between the NHS and the hospital in Germany in this particular case, so that is why we have agreed to fund the treatment.
‘This would not apply to another family who decided to send their child abroad for treatment.’