Wednesday, August 02, 2006


For Roy Thayers, a pensioner in need of a life-saving heart operation, it was an easy decision to make. Either the 77-year-old could languish on the NHS waiting list, even though doctors had cautioned that he was unlikely to survive the nine-month wait. Or he could write a cheque for an 8,000 pound private treatment that he could not afford. The retired painter and decorater opted for the latter, and within three days had undergone a succesful angioplasty at Hammersmith Hospital.

The cheque bounced. After negotiations with the hospital, Mr Thayers is repaying his debt at a rate of 25 pounds a week. "Life is a great thing and you do whatever you can to survive," he said. "I've never been a debtor in my life, but it was either that, or rigor mortis - I would have been a dead man. I think every man or woman would have done the same."

Mr Thayers, who is divorced and lives in Hounslow, west London, said that he had watched his first wife die of cancer more than thirty years ago, and was determined to survive at any cost. After suffering severe chest pains, he went to a specialist who told him that two valves had become blocked, and that he was at risk of a fatal heart attack unless he had surgery.

Mr Thayers said that those on lower incomes were being deprived of the benefits of the national health service. "I've worked hard all my life," he said. "The NHS is a marvellous thing, but it is being ruined. I would recommend anybody to do what I did. Life is great and when you have got it, you hang on to it."


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