IN response to the two gentlemen who wrote to your paper (Why should NHS pay for this op? Letters, January 5) regarding Mr Cooper.

I would like to draw their attention to anorexics, heavy drinkers, smokers, participants of extreme sports, etc. If we are going to exclude people with self-inflicted or avoidable injuries and ailments, the implications are endless - or do these gentlemen only discriminate against overweight people?

Surely the NHS is for those who need it. If we start to question a person's right to care, how long before we question the need for an emergency ambulance?

If we, the public, need an axe to grind, it shouldn't be at Mr Cooper. This man has seen a highly trained consultant who has given his expert opinion.

Thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money is wasted in the NHS every year, a lot of which has nothing to do with patient care.

Many doctors and nurses working in the private sector were trained using taxpayers' money, how cost-effective has than been to the NHS? What is happening to this place we call home? We used to be a nation that cared, now some of us don't even know our neighbours' names.

We don't have an empathy with others, we seem to be turning against each other.

Our generation should think very carefully about our actions, because the next generation are learning from us. And they will be the taxpayers who'll be paying for our care and treatment in our old age.

Wendy Barker, Leeside, Dringhouses, York.

Philip Cooper's plight in not getting a gastric band operation (I'll die at 60, The Press, January 3) is yet another example of this Labour government's total incompetence in running the country, and plunging the NHS into serious debt and near-bankruptcy.

I clocked up some serious excess weight a nearly six years ago after breaking both legs and numerous other bones in an air sporting accident, which rendered me wheelchair-bound for nearly a year.

My normal flying weight of just under 14 stone rocketed up to 17 stone, but with the use of my employees' gym once I was able to drive again I soon shed the fat that I had piled on when bed-bound.

Unless Mr Cooper's excess weight is caused by anything other than just taking to much in and not burning it off, I suggest some brisk walking to start with. As the saying goes, any exercise is better than nothing at all.

R Waite, Holgate, York.