We did take a wander to the beach where, despite gales and endless rain, we saw people sunbathing, having barbecues and, during one torrential downpour, a family sitting eating sandwiches.
‘How daft is that?’ I asked my daughter. ‘Well, we’re standing here watching them and at least they’ve got something to eat,’ she replied, adding: ‘Shall we go and do the lilo game again?’ ‘No,’ I said, unconvinced the cat would fall for it a fifth time.
These are the small things in life that try us. They irritate and annoy us. But we’re not really suffering. We’re not ill. Unlike some, we’re not remortgaging the house to pay for cancer drugs, are we?
On 24 August a group of cancer specialists wrote to The Sunday Times expressing concern over the inability of the health service to turn research success into treatment and over the impact of what amounts to a rationing of drugs by NICE that leads to many patients having to remortgage their homes to buy expensive but potentially life-saving drugs.
Of course we know the NHS does not have infinite resources and has to manage expenditure carefully. And everybody would concede that NICE has a near impossible task in having to judge cost against effectiveness for treatments and medicines. But are we satisfied that we are doing enough to guide its decision-making?
The cancer specialists point out that these drugs are freely available to patients in countries of comparable wealth. And that is the heart of the matter. We can afford these drugs but have organised ourselves in a way that makes it appear as though we can’t.
We don’t know where the money goes but we do know that everyone who works for the NHS has learnt to worry about how much money they may be spending. We also know that we have established processes and organisations that exist to monitor expenditure. And the people who administer these activities act in good faith.
But none of that should distract us from the simple truth that we, as a country, can afford to provide prescribed drug treatments for cancer patients. It is something other than money that is stopping us from looking after these people. We have the wealth but do we have the will?
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