The NHS is not national6th September 2006
Watching a relative die from cancer brings home the nature of this awful disease. So I wanted to share with you the experience of a constituent of mine, a distinguished and charming author. Having been diagnosed with - and treated for - a haematologial cancer, he has now reached the last line of defence. "It is called Velcade, and it is a good drug, fully licensed in this country" with the potential to improve the quality of his life, "and perhaps prolong it by two to five years." It is available free in almost every European country; but not in Oxfordshire. Were this postcode lottery not unjust enough, the injustice will shortly become an outrage. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) is expected finally to rule, or "advise", that Velcade should not be dispensed on the NHS. Why? Because each treatment costs around £16,000. "We must accept, in this country, that there are some treatments the state just cannot afford. "Did I say 'this country'? Forgive me. There will certainly be one part of Britain, if not England, where the NHS will continue to distribute Velcade free: Scotland. The government is always trumpeting the NHS as one of their core values. "So let me ask you this, Gordon: how can you call it a National Health Service? I mean, run that National bit past me again... There's no more NHS. There's an EHS and an SHS.
Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
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