Published: 06:00, 30 July 2020
A war veteran says he feels betrayed by the NHS after medication to prevent him from going blind was stopped.
Charles Stone, known as Vic, had been getting Macushield capsules on prescription since he was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in October 2018.
AMD causes sufferers to gradually lose their central vision.
However, the 94-year-old, who lives in Halfway on Sheppey, received a letter from his GP surgery, the DMC clinic at Sheppey hospital, saying his medication would no longer be prescribed.
It read: “As you will be aware there is significant pressure on the NHS to ensure that resources are used in the most cost-effective way to ensure the best care for all patients.
“For this reason, we are no longer able to prescribe certain medications, which are available to buy over the counter at a small cost. Unfortunately this means we are no longer able to prescribe the Macushield capsules for you.”
Vic, a Second World War veteran who ended up in Burma and spent 28 years in the Royal Navy Auxiliary Service, said: “I’m really downhearted about it all. There’s no cure for AMD, but the capsules retard the progress of it, so it takes longer to lose your central vision. I’ve been two months without them now.”
He added: “I was very upset and cross about it.
“They wrote the letter on May 8, which was VE Day. I noticed the date immediately. My neighbours had been outside celebrating, commemorating those for their wartime service – I thought the letter was a kick in the teeth.
“Given my loyal service to the Crown and country, I thought I’d be treated more fairly.”
He added: “They said I could buy the capsules over the counter at a small cost but when I worked it out, it’s not a low cost, it’s about £300 a year.
“I feel betrayed by the NHS. If I live long enough, I will lose my vision – that makes me feel pretty rough.”
“They wrote the letter on May 8, which was VE Day. I noticed the date immediately – I thought it was a kick in the teeth."
Vic responded to the letter on July 21, but has not had a reply.
Dr Navin Kumta, GP and clinical chair of the NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for Sheppey's DMC clinic, said to KentOnline: "I am very sorry to hear that Mr Stone feels betrayed but I would like to reassure him that decisions such as this are based on evidence-based research and the clinical effectiveness of the medication being prescribed, not the patient involved.
“Macushield capsules contain a number of vitamins which have, in the past, been prescribed to people with deteriorating eyesight. However, currently there is very little evidence to suggest they make any difference to the patient.
“The decision not to continue prescribing Macushield capsules was made by NHS England rather than local clinical commissioning groups or individual GPs. The guidance being followed is part of the Medicines Value Programme, which aims to ensure greater value from the NHS medicines bill.
“With the number of prescriptions increasing, it is important that the NHS acts to achieve the greatest value from the money that it spends and that prescribing decisions are made based on the evidence of the treatment.
“Many medicines – including vitamins – can be purchased in health food shops or over the counter in chemists if patients wish to take them.”
More by this authorChloe Holmwood
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