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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 19:54 GMT
War veteran wins eye fight battle
Jack Tagg
Mr Tagg had not been told he could appeal against the trust's decision
A Devon health trust that refused free treatment to save the sight of a former World War II pilot has made a U-turn.

Jack Tagg feared he would go blind before Torbay Primary Care Trust (PCT) would fund vital treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The 88-year-old put his Torquay home up for sale to pay for private treatment.

Now the PCT has offered Mr Tagg the Lucentis injections. He has accepted the offer, but vowed to continue the fight for people in the same situation.

"I'm only one and there are thousands more like me," Mr Tagg told BBC News.

"There are still more lessons to learn in all this."

Mr Tagg had been told by a consultant in Torbay he would not get the injections unless he had lost vision in his left eye.

I have personally apologised to Mr Tagg for the flaw within our process
Peter Colclough, Torbay Care Trust

Health managers said they were following guidance from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), suggesting there was little evidence the drug was effective or suitable in the early progression of wet AMD.

The treatment is offered for free elsewhere in the South West.

When Mr Tagg's plight became known, he received huge public support, including cheques to help fund his treatment.

The cheques were handed into 10 Downing Street last week by Mr Tagg and his GP in an attempt to "shame" the government into changing the "inhuman treatment of vulnerable people".

Personal apology

Torbay Care Trust said its chief executive had met Mr Tagg and wife after working closely with hospital clinicians to examine his case in detail.

It said at the time of Mr Tagg's consultation with the ophthalmologist, he was not advised of his right to appeal.

Chief Executive Peter Colclough said: "I have personally apologised to Mr Tagg for the flaw within our process which meant he was not immediately advised of his right to appeal the initial decision regarding his treatment.

"As a result, we have today offered to fund Mr Tagg's treatment on a personal basis."

Mr Colclough said the trust would continue to assess each patient on a case by case basis.



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