PLANS to scrap vital drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease have been shelved - for now.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) had planned to stop prescribing drugs, saying the £2.50-a-day treatment was too expensive.

But now - just days before a planned mass rally in London and after a massive public outcry - the Government has forced Nice to think again.

Ministers have ordered Nice to reconsider its decision and delay the withdrawal of drugs until it has more thoroughly investigated the implications to carers and patients.

Last week the Examiner told the story of Alzheimer's sufferer Irene Holroyd, 82, of Newsome, whose life has been improved by taking Aricept and Reminyl to control the illness.

Since the article appeared dozens of fellow sufferers have been in touch, saying the Nice proposal was ``disgusting".

Frank Barraclough, 77, of Marsh, is the sole carer for wife Margaret, 76.

He is delighted there is going to be a rethink but is still worried the drugs might disappear eventually.

He said: "I was shocked by the news that Nice was going to stop the drugs for NHS patients and make people pay. But this is some good news.

"However, we have to fight on, to let the Government know that old people cannot just be disregarded and ignored. We are people too.

"These drugs give my wife the chance to live a more normal life than she would be able to otherwise.

"That is so important to both of us and should not just be thrown away because of cost.

"It costs £2.50 a day for each sufferer, which is tiny compared to what is spent on other drugs.

"Hopefully, such ridiculous ideas will not even see the light of day again."

But Janet Dudley, of Huddersfield Alzheimer's Society, is still urging people to write to Nice and their MP, to call for the drugs to remain free.

She said: "The fight is by no means over yet. The consultation is still going on.

"That means a decision could still be taken to go ahead with the plans to stop the drugs being available free of charge.

"It is good news in that at this point the Government has listened to the public and has asked Nice to reconsider," added Ms Dudley.

"But people still need to make this an issue, so nothing like this happens again and finally the idea to stop the drugs is dropped."