Just days away from pioneering and potentially life-changing surgery, the family of Helston schoolboy Josh Mills could be facing a bill of £20,000.
Seven-year-old Josh, who has cerebral palsy that affects all four limbs, is due to undergo a £27,000 operation at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital this Tuesday (February 5) to move the tight muscle tone preventing him from walking properly.
If all goes according to plan, it should mean that Josh will be able to walk much longer distances with his sticks and even short distances completely unaided.
To ensure the operation is a success, however, Josh will need professional physiotherapy sessions three times a week, to start rebuilding the muscle from scratch – something the family had been told they would receive financial help towards.
Josh’s parents Jo and Paul had believed the NHS would fund one session a week and they would need to find the money for the other two.
This prompted the Packet to set up the Footprints campaign, helping the family raise the remaining £7,000 needed.
This week, however, the family received the devastating blow that the NHS was only able to pay for one session every two weeks – the same treatment that Josh currently receives.
Although the family are appealing the decision, they will not find out the verdict until the day after Josh has his operation.
His mum Jo has calculated that if no extra money is forthcoming, the family will need to find £20,000 to cover the cost of the necessary physiotherapy.
She said: “It’s really disappointing. They’ve known about it for a year and a half and they have waited until the last minute to let me know.
“We weren’t expecting the full physio, but they’re offering no more than what he receives now.”
It means the family needs Packet readers’ support more than ever before, by continuing to raise funds through the Footprints campaign.
The current fundraising total stands at £5,457 – more than three quarters of the way to the original £7,000 target.
Jo said that had the Footprints campaign not have raised that money, Josh’s operation would have already been cancelled.
“Without this money we wouldn’t be able to continue. We can’t thank everyone enough for everything. This operation is Josh’s best chance to fulfil his dreams and make every day less of a struggle,” she said, adding that she had been overwhelmed by people’s “kind support and generous donations.”
“I know that when Josh comes home he can get the help he needs, which is fabulous,” she added.
In particular she thanked family members and friends from RNAS Culdrose – where Jo has taken Josh and his brother Charlie to play group sessions – who had recently added £400 to the pot.
“One way or another £20,000 needs to be found. The money so far covers at least six months – then we can worry about the rest as we go along,” said Jo.
A spokesman for NHS Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: "We are not able to discuss individual patient cases. However, we are in contact with Josh's parents and RCHT to ensure this administrative issue can be resolved for them on February 6 when our panel will decide the funding arrangements.
“We are not able to pre-empt the panel's decision, but are doing what we can to support the family in this case."