I REALLY enjoyed the BBC drama Years and Years.

If you didn’t see it, it portrayed a dark and dystopian view of what the country could become in the next 15 years or so seen through the eyes and experiences of one family.

It was quite chilling in that its basic premise of how and why things could go very wrong have their roots in the political and socio-economic themes that exist now.

One particular scene caught my attention when the family’s grandmother admitted she was going blind.

An on-line diagnosis was confirmed by a real doctor who told her there was a new stem cell treatment available.

But there was a three year waiting list. However, there was an NHS express treatment that would see her treated immediately at a cost of £10,000.

Of course the character in the drama elected to use her savings and have the treatment.

Now this was drama, it was fiction, it was meant to be what could happen in a world going bad.

Or was it?

Because we have seen fiction meet fact recently with the outrage prompted by the Daily Mirror front page about Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust charging for some operations.

To be honest, this isn’t a new story. The Warrington and Halton Trust launched the now-controversial My Choice scheme back in 2013.

In November last year, the trust said the service would give ‘affordable and convenient access’ to healthcare for patients while generating additional income.

Chief executive Mel Pickup said: “We have seen many changes in the NHS over the last five years, and commissioners are more challenged than ever to ensure that they invest scarce resources in the most effective way.

“Procedures of low clinical priority do not mean low value to our patients, and we are pleased to be able to make a large number available at a really affordable price at their local hospitals and by our most trusted NHS staff.”

So the thrust of this is if you need or want an operation deemed ‘low clinical priority’ it’s not offered free on the NHS. But you still want it done. Prior to the My Choice scheme, your only option would be to pay to go privately.

My Choice, it appears, offers a hybrid model whereby you are still treated by the NHS but have to pay, albeit at a much lower rate than if you went to the private sector.

But I do have a problem with this when I look at the list of procedures.

I can understand why you would have to pay £2,303 for the reversal of male sterilisation or £3,720 for breast enlargement. And while unwanted hair removal may not be at the top of a list of clinical priorities, paying £1,048 to put an end to the problem may seem like a bargain if you can afford it.

But then I do run into difficulties with My Choice.

There is a massive difference between having a procedure because you fancy having bigger boobs or you’ve remarried and want to start fathering children again and having surgery for a condition that threatens your very mobility.

I can’t think that anyone would elect to pay £7,179 to have knee replacement surgery unless they really needed it or fork out £7,060 for hip replacement surgery. They are not the kinds of operations you have unless you really need them.

So exactly who is deciding which procedures are of ‘low clinical priority’ as Mel Pickup describes them?

What criteria are being used to deny NHS patients knee and hip operations? Low clinical priority is far too vague a term and we deserve to be told how the decisions are made. And I speak as someone whose knees crack like a starting pistol every time I stand up.

Yes, I fear I may need knee replacement operations and it now looks like I will have to start saving up.

Just as a footnote, Warrington Hospital bosses have said they are pausing the availability of My Choice procedures ‘to ensure it can in no way disadvantage NHS patients’.

As someone whose knees are shot to pieces, I’ll be interested to see the outcome.