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Created on 23/1/2008

Some days a story surfaces that demands our immediate attention. The government of the United Kingdom is denying the right of cancer sufferers to receive National Health Service treatment if they are paying for their own private medication. The government’s argument is that if people can afford their own private purchase of pills they should be able to pay for their entire care privately.

There are several flaws in this argument. The first of these logical problems is both major and obvious; the government themselves should be providing the pills these people need; then the individuals concerned wouldn’t be forced to pay for their life saving, or life elongating or at least life enhancing medication themselves.

The government has stated that they see any breach of their format as the thin end of the wedge, which would spell the end of the NHS, as we know it. This is patent nonsense. The guiding principle when this wonderful service was first set up in an austere post World War 2 environment was that it was free for all at the point of care, on a need basis, and was not means tested.

However the reality is that this has changed over the years in many ways to reflect modern society and an ever-changing economy. I shall give examples in a moment but first let’s remember the National Health Service is not a sacred cow or a religion, it is simply an expedient, evolving device to look after the health of this nation. The government powers behind their draconian decision state that they are taking this stance because this is a point of principle. How well would their stance be maintained if it were their relative dying?

How is it OK for the same government to condone us paying for eye tests, dental care, prescriptions and many other services from the same National Health Service but its not OK for someone to buy their own medication to keep them alive whilst still being treated by the NHS?

Perhaps even more of a moral paradox is the fact that many people are able to obtain free NHS treatment for IVF, which costs a great deal of money. We all understand how desperate some childless couples are to conceive and it’s a wonderful miracle of modern science that they can be helped on some occasions. But ask yourself, is it all right for such treatments to be paid for by us all if there is a shortfall in funding?

More strange is the idea that it is not acceptable for someone to pay for his or her own medications, thus not taking that potential cost out of the pocket of us all?

Why should the short sighted, mean spirited dogmatic bureaucrats who run this formerly wonderful health service penalize such people? Shame on these pencil pushers for watching people die because the patients’ actions offend their political principles!

These unfortunate patients, who, let us remember are suffering from sometimes terminal cancer, should be thanked, helped and encouraged. They are sick or dying and they are doing what anyone should do, which is try to look after themselves and receive help where that is appropriate. What kind of sick society can be turning into if there is even an argument about these basic rights?

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