Cancer Patients an Easy Target for Cost Cutting

NICE have rejected all our new drugs for kidney cancer apart from one, Sutent, which was finally won after a huge unnecessary cost of life, due to their usual unfathomable delays and our dreadful NHS Post Code Lottery. NICE recently issued draft guidance to reject our latest drug Everolimus, for second line treatment, and now we await the outcome of their appeal process, which is not due until June. Whilst NICE continues to take its time many have been left with no effective treatment. Patients are again having to apply directly to their own PCT for funding, which is in itself just another time-consuming paper intensive and cruel process. The last thing a seriously ill cancer patient wants to do is to spend valuable days and months in a fight against local NHS bureaucracy.
Cancer patients appear to be an easy target for NHS cost cutting, despite the fact that most of us have paid a lifetime of contributions. We now appear to be little more than an expensive nuisance to some highly paid NHS administrators. It was reported recently in the press that Sophia Christie, who is none other than the Chief Executive of Birmingham NHS, had upset cancer patients by dismissing cancer drugs that provide vital pain relief to thousands, as “death deferring,” and she suggested money would be better used elsewhere. Just to add insult to injury Ms Christie was addressing the NICE Annual Conference in Manchester as a guest speaker when she made these remarks. So who knows what influence she may have had on the very people we rely on for our new drugs? This was particularly insensitive as we look upon each new cancer drug as a “bringer of hope” for the extra time we are given, which is a more positive way to view our options. Also, who knows, perhaps during this extra time a new drug will become available even better than before. If “hope” is taken away then what are we left with? It is worth reminding ourselves that those countries with the best cancer survival rates are those who allow sequential treatment with the most effective new drugs. One could argue that many other interventional medical procedures may be considered as “death deferring”. Shockingly, we have since discovered that Ms Christie now appears to have been appointed as lead advisor to the new NHS End of Life Care “workstream” for us all!
In today’s Telegraph it is reported that Ms Christie says, “We are still in a state where we are operating what is a lot of 19th century healthcare alongside 21st century healthcare. This is an opportunity to move to 21st century healthcare.” Good of her to confirm this, as I would have thought that modern effective cancer drugs are a true representation of 21st century healthcare treatment! She talks about the need to use hospitals less as a way of addressing the £20 billion that the NHS has to save over the next three years. Would it not make more sense for the many duplicated expensive tiers of Senior Managers, Very Senior Managers & Directors to first be culled before they cut the patient care and front line services – or are they just all protecting their cosy non-accountable jobs and associated perks? In 2008/2009 these managers and administrators cost us the taxpayer, some £5.6 BILLION compared with £2.7 BILLION when this government came to power. We certainly do not need 152 PCTs, & 10 SHAs with all the associated job duplication and meetings involved. We could have the best healthcare system in the world but alas it needs a truly dedicated and strong leader to take the NHS by the scruff of the neck and shake out all the time wasters and unecessary processes and put the patient first for once.
Our online petition to the Prime Minister asks for a full and urgent review to be made of the NICE process for appraising all newly licensed and approved Cancer drugs. We already have over sixteen hundred signatures and we are approaching the top of the list in the Health category. So if you want to add your own support to try and make a difference for ALL cancer patients then please do so at:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NewCancerDrugs/

Posted under Cancer Drugs, Clive Stone

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