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As the largely unwarranted festivities around the 60-year birthday of the National Health Service are dying down, the actual state of healthcare is once again hitting the headlines. Last week the British Medical Association (BMA) called for a thorough and independent review of NHS patients topping up their care. However, the report will not be ready until summer next year.

According to a BBC article on the issue, at present you have two choices. You can either pay for health care that would normally be free, or go without drugs that could help extend your life. They are in fact wrong. For many people the choice has already been made by the state because they cannot afford the first option. At present, lifesaving drugs are cut off from many who cannot afford to pay for healthcare outside of the state system.

Slowly, but too slowly, the ideological disgrace of denying top-up treatment is being realised. The BMA debate was a reaction to a woman dying of cancer who was denied free NHS treatment in her final months because she had paid privately for a drug to try to prolong her life. This is not a health service that that is the envy of the world.