MY FIGHT; Cancer battler Colette in legal action against NHS.
CANCER battler and former nurse Colette Mills has started legal action against the NHS in an ongoing fight over treatment.
Mrs Mills, 58, of Hutton Rudby, near Stokesley, faces a massive monthly bill in her fight against breast cancer after the NHS threatened to withdraw her current treatment if she buys the lifesaving wonder drug Avastin privately.
Health chiefs told her she can't have Avastin on the NHS to fight secondary cancers.
Mrs Mills, who has fought breast cancer for 26 years and is also receiving chemotherapy, has now been backed by top national legal and medical experts in her fight for the drug.
Nigel Giffin QC, a specialist in public health policy, says she has a legal right to combine private and state treatment under the law.
And Professor Ian Smith, head of the breast cancer unit at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London, has also supported Mrs Mills.
He described authorities banning people from having a vital drug when they are prepared to pay for it themselves as "very harsh."
Mrs Mills said: "These drugs have been very successful in the USA and elsewhere in Europe and should be used rather than waiting for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to approve them.
"People are dying, when these drugs could prolong lives and improve the quality of life for patients.
"I'm in a constant battle, which is very tiring and stressful, but I won't give up.
"The trust has now been served with legal documents by my lawyer from Manchester.
"I'm asking for the trust to pay for Avastin and not to threaten to remove my other NHS treatment."
She is willing to cover the pounds 4,000-a-month cost for the new drug, but the health authority said this would make her liable for all her medical costs - around pounds 15,000 a month.
The Department of Health says that although co-payment is legal, it contravenes its code of practice and would open the door to a two-tier system.
Mrs Mills is being treated at Northallerton's Friarage Hospital.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire and York PCT said: "We have received correspondence about the case and, as the public would expect, we will reply to the patient's representatives directly."
LEGAL BATTLE: Cancer sufferer Colette Mills, who is fighting for access to the drug Avastin. Below, how we reported the decision to deny her the drug Picture by MICHELLE MADDISON