Monday, 25 February 2008

Victim of the NHS postcode lottery


A woman fears she has been sentenced to blindness after NHS managers in Oxfordshire refused to give her a treatment to improve her sight.

Hana Whitton is already blind in her left eye, because of an illness called myopic choroidal neovascular complex.

A year ago doctors discovered her right eye was also under threat, but she has become a the victim of health care "postcode lottery" after Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust refused to pay for a drug that would help her.

Although Lucentis has already helped improve her condition, the PCT said it would not pay the £7,000 needed for a course of three injections.

The 56-year-old then learned she could get the treatment free if she lived in neighbouring Wiltshire.

The trust's decision, which has deprived thousands of county patients of the drug, has been branded "simply unacceptable" by a charity for the blind.

To prevent her eyesight from getting worse, Mrs Whitton, of Hinton Waldrist, near Southmoor, has been forced to pay for treatment privately and has had two of the injections.

But she and her husband Paul are unsure they can afford further care.

She said: "I think their only reason for preventing me from having this drug is economic. It's just appalling that they let people go blind without any two thoughts about it and don't seem to realise it will cost more for the State to look after people who are blind."