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NHS patients “penalised over drugs”

National Health Service (NHS) cancer patients in Britain are being prevented from paying for extra private treatment, according to a leading charity.

Cancer sufferers say they are denied the option of topping up with NHS treatment if they opt to pay for drugs not available via the health service.

They claim this is because the government is against a two-tier system that benefits the well-off.

Charity Cancer Research UK has called on Health Secretary Alan Johnson to address the problem.

Richard Davidson, director of policy and public affairs at Cancer Research UK, said the issue is complex.

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“We don’t support moves that perpetuate inequalities,” he said. “But we find it equally unpalatable that cancer patients who can afford to pay for life-extending treatment should be denied from doing so.

“This is a complex issue which the Government needs to resolve.”

At least one patient, 64-year-old Linda O’Boyle, of Billericay, Essex, is known to have died after being denied free treatment because she opted for a drug only available privately.

It is believed a number of patients are planning legal action in a bid to force the NHS to allow for top-up care.

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