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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 17:00 GMT
Man in NHS battle 'to save sight'
Ray and Olive Liggins
Ray Liggins is using his savings to pay for private treatment
A man has called his NHS trust "morally wrong" for refusing to fund treatment which could save his sight.

Raymond Liggins, 76, from Nuneaton, lost the sight in his left eye because of wet macular degeneration and now has the condition in his right eye.

Two charities say they have appealed to Warwickshire Primary Care Trust to fund the "sight-saving" drug Lucentis.

The trust said it did not routinely commission the drug as it was not recommended in guidance to the NHS.

David Rose, chief executive of Warwickshire PCT, said this was the same as other PCTs in the West Midlands.

Mr Liggins' case has been backed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Macular Disease Society (MDS).

It's morally wrong to let people go blind when there are treatments available
Raymond Liggins

The RNIB said Mr Liggins had the devastating condition age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which could lead to blindness in as little as three months.

It called for Warwickshire PCT to adopt draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which recommended Lucentis be made available to all patients who developed AMD.

The RNIB said rapid use of the drug was "vital" as it was able to halt the progress of the condition.

Mr Liggins, who is using his life savings to pay for private treatment, said he and other patients with the condition had been "let down" by the NHS.

"It's morally wrong to let people go blind when there are treatments available," he said.

Mr Liggins, who cares for his wife Olive who recently had a stroke, added: "My wife depends on me to help maintain her balance when we go out shopping, but I won't be able to do this if I lose my sight."

'Clock ticking'

He noticed his sight deteriorating shortly after retiring as an engineer.

"I couldn't read the difference between the Ladies and Gents signs," he said.

"I went into the Ladies twice and my wife Olive had to take me into the right toilets."

Barbara McLaughan, RNIB campaigns manager, said: "It's an absolute disgrace that he is effectively being told to pay up or go blind," she said.

She added: "The clock is literally ticking for patients like Raymond who risk losing their sight because PCTs are denying them sight-saving treatment."

Mr Rose said it was not appropriate for the PCT to comment publicly on an individual case.

He added: "The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) issues guidance to the NHS on treatments and procedures following extensive trial and review and Warwickshire PCT follows all mandatory NICE guidelines."



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