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Byline: angharad mair

WHAT with getting rid of the 10p tax and the retrospective tax on older cars I thought that there couldn't possibly be anything else that the Government could do for a while to seriously alienate people.

But last week we heard that a woman dying of cancer was denied free NHS treatment and care because she had paid privately for extra drugs to try to prolong her life.

There must be some mistake, I thought. After all, everyone has every right to do their utmost to stay alive.

But no, the politicians have confirmed that co-payment - paying for some expensive drugs that aren't available on the NHS yourself - would create a two-tier NHS, and be unfair to those who couldn't pay more.

This is sick - a health service in a civilised country that allowed someone to die because she had, in a desperate bid to prolong her life, paid for some drugs. This is a ruling so lacking in common sense it makes you want to scream. Especially when in Britain we are lagging far behind most other European countries in cancer survival rates.

This is mad, and seriously frightening.

And anyway, we already have co-payment within the NHS.

Practically everything in life is a form of co-payment.

I pay for my dental treatment and my eye tests but wouldn't expect to be turned away from a hospital if something went seriously wrong.

I opted for co-payment (although I didn't realise it at the time because I had never heard of the word) when I was pregnant.

I was 39 and 41 years old having my children so I had an amniocentesis test both times.

I was lucky enough to be able to pay for this treatment which meant that I could have the test done a few weeks earlier than on the NHS and afterwards I was given the results in two days.

The NHS results take two weeks. I could afford to pay for peace of mind.

I actually thought that I was also doing the NHS a favour - one less amnio that taxpayers had to fund. It's inconceivable that Alan Johnson actually says that by being lucky enough to fund some of my own care that I should then be denied all NHS treatment.

As it was, there are no private facilities for giving birth in Cardiff and so the NHS, I guess, was forced to take me in.

Our education system is most certainly a co-payment structure.

My children are lucky enough to have a fantastic education at the local Welsh school.

But I pay extra - because I am lucky enough to be able to afford to do so - for French and Spanish lessons, singing lessons and keyboard lessons, all within the school during school hours I know parents who pay for reading and maths lessons to supplement their children's education.

On the politicians' NHS logic, my children should be banned from state school because I have paid for some of their activities.

It's complete nonsense.
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 8, 2008
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