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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
OAP pays for op with fake cheque
Roy Thayers with his cheque book
Mr Thayers knew the cheque would bounce
A penniless pensioner from west London paid for a life-saving heart operation with a fake cheque.

Retired painter and decorator Roy Thayers was facing a nine-month wait on the NHS to get an angioplasty.

Instead, the 77-year-old wrote out a cheque for almost 9,000 for a private operation at Hammersmith Hospital - despite only having 10 in the bank.

He is now paying back the remaining amount of 6,481 in 25 instalments. He will be 99 by the time it is repaid.

Severe pain

The pensioner suffered from terrible pain for more years "than I can remember."

He added: "It was like putting a knife inside my ribs and twisting it all up. I couldn't move my legs and had to sit down after a few steps until the pain went. Truly terrible."

Doctors told the father of two he risked a fatal heart attack at any time. Then he was told there was a nine-month wait.

He was left with the choice of either waiting out the nine months and risk having a fatal heart attack or writing out a "Mickey Mouse cheque" and going private.

The decision was easy.

"The idea came on the spur of the moment. I love life, I love my dogs, I love fishing - why should I die for the sake of money?"

"I wasn't going to worry about the law until it came to me," he said. "I paid into the NHS for years to look after me but now the doctors were telling me they wouldn't so who's robbing who?"

Bailiff threat

He wrote out a cheque on the day of the operation in December 2003.

It was only days afterwards that the hospital realised what had happened.

The NHS threatened to send bailiffs to his address to recover the money. All sides however finally agreed on a payment plan of 25 a month.

A spokeswoman for Hammersmith Hospital NHS Trust said Mr Thayers' health was of the utmost importance and insist he would have been seen on the NHS earlier if his condition was thought to be urgent.

Married twice, his first wife died of cancer 40 years ago. After divorcing his second wife and becoming estranged from his two children who live in Bournemouth, he now lives alone.

But the pensioner has no regrets.

Happy to be alive, he spends his days watching old black & white westerns in-between looking after his two Jack Russells and his canaries.

"I did nothing wrong," he insisted. "I took back what was rightfully mine. I've been paying into the national health all my life, it's about time I got some payback. I did the right thing - I did what any man would do."

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