UK way down in cancer survival rates, but cancer patients find old saying you get what you pay for applies equally to medicine. The NHS sneers at cost of medicine in the USA – yet if faced with pay up for a life-saving treatment – or die – I know which i would choose.

What happens Abroad

Europe has far better outcomes; cancer survivors live years longer in other countries than we do. Why ? Possibly because overall everyone will pay about 1 – 2% more in tax and/or insurance whan we do on National Insurance. But isn’t it worth it ? The NHS comes out with the boast “Free at the point of delivery”, yet never asks patients if they would pay more to get better or specialised treatment.

Case Study

Recently a friend was faced with a similar situation to that faced by Brett King, father who took son Ashya to Prague for Proton Beam Therapy (PBT). The friend was being monitored for returning cancer. After frequent delays the Consultant called him in and suggested he seek out ‘end of life care’ ; his cancer had advanced too far to treat. It was all hands to the pumps as his friends rallied round. PBT might offer a solution, but all the official agencies in UK couldn’t give any information. NHS England even asked “what is Proton Beam Therapy ?” After making arrangements to borrow money if Prague was only option – a final contact of a contact has come up with a sensible contact : friend is paying to see Consultant in UK privately, who understands his type of rare cancer. Even after letting him down dramatically, NHS won’t pull any strings to help. But friend at least will talk to top NHS Consultant who knows about Proton Beam Therapy – and at best might be able to offer treatment in UK.

Ken Livingstone

Red Ken was carrying on a desperate fight to be re-elected Mayor of London. He was trying to connect with every possible potential vote – and invited me down to Central Hall for a ‘Cancer meeting’. This was designed to show his caring face, but ended up a ‘shooting in the foot’ event. There were 30 of us, obviously selected because the pollster had shown we had had cancer, and were mostly from the poorer parts of London. The Chair asked each of us around the massive Mayoral table if we had had used private treatment for cancer. 21 of the 30 said YES. How had they funded private treatment ?
  • The family had got together to work out funding
  • Mortgaged or re-Mortgaged a home
  • Borrowed against insurance policies
  • Got a Loan from the Bank
  • Used up savings
When it came to Gran or Grandad’s health – the family would pull out all the stops. For the future the The NHS should wake up – we aren’t children, andshould be given option of paying more National Insurance, Tax, extra Insurance such as happens in Europe. But with 11% of us now paying for Private Medical Insurance, and untold numbers Self-funding (i.e. paying direct for care), whoever runs the NHS needs to get this sorted. Otherwise I can see our medical treatment falling further behind the rest of the world – and cancer survivors having a shorter life.