August 11, 2008

Fairness for All ; Evening Chronicle COMMENT

BRITAIN'S National Health Service comes under intense scrutiny, but it remains the envy of the world.

The principle of free treatment for all is one which has stood proud since the NHS was created 60 years ago.

Huge strides have been made in the development of treatment since then, to the point where some patients are finding drugs which they believe may save or prolong their lives are being denied to them.

Research by the Rarer Cancers Forum claims there is a postcode lottery when patients attempt to access certain medicines.

At present, primary care trusts are not forced to fund treatments which have not been appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

However, some trusts agree to pay for drugs for individual patients, while, in some cases, neighbouring trusts do not.

It is difficult to explain why this is happening to a patient who has contributed financially to the NHS for years and now finds treatment is being denied at the time of greatest need.

Drugs are appraised and regulated for good reason, but the least patients can expect is uniformity across the country. Anything else causes terrible upset at a time of great trauma.

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