Views & Reviews Personal View

Because I’m worth it

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 17 September 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1248
  1. Robert Mayer, general practitioner and family therapist, London

    This personal view is published posthumously. Robert Mayer died on 21 March 2008, aged 48. (See Obituary, doi:10.1136/bmj.a1215.) Below, his widow adds her thoughts

    I’m listening to the consumer programme You and Yours on BBC Radio 4, like you do when you have too much time on your hands and an inadequate concentration span for anything purposeful. The programme is about the cost of new anticancer drugs and whether or not the NHS can afford them “at a price that we the taxpayer can afford,” as England’s cancer tsar, Mike Richards, says.

    I was given a diagnosis of metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma four months ago, and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much I cost the NHS. Now that I am a patient as well as an “expensive” GP, perhaps I might be, how shall we say . . . a little too pricey now?

    Of course, cancer doesn’t come cheaply. If you look at my medical record, you will see that very little had been spent on me until I got cancer. A few prescriptions, tonsils and adenoids taken out when I was 7—probably unnecessary by today’s standards—and one haemorrhoid injected. A few hundred pounds all in. With an eye to the future, and because we may not be too far away from this scenario, I’ve done a few back of the envelope calculations of what my treatment might cost.

    • Investigations

    • Colonoscopy: £1000 (€1250; $1780)

    • Gastroscopy: £600

    • Scans: £3000

    • Computed tomography with biopsy (two): …

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