This post was written by Rose Woodward on December 6, 2010
Rose Woodward – Patient Advocate
At long last…… confirmation that the
Cancer Drugs Fund to get £200m a year
There was good news for cancer patients in England this week after the government confirmed it will provide £600 million for a three-year fund to improve access to new cancer drugs on the National Health Service.
There had been fears that the pot may be reduced under the current spurt of cost cuts, but the Department of Health announced yesterday that £200 million a year will be made available for the Cancer Drugs Fund from 2011 to 2013.
The move is designed to help patients get better access to therapies recommended by their specialists, even if they have not been approved by cost regulator the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, giving clinicians yet more power to dish out the treatments they feel are the most appropriate.
In addition, it is hoped that the extra cash pile – which is separate from existing Primary Care Trust budgets – will also help to improve the country’s ranking in terms of the provision of innovative cancer treatment to patients, as it is low on the list compared with many of its global peers.
Just a few weeks ago the government said it is has also set aside £50 million for an interim fund to help patients get treatment with drugs that have the potential to extend survival or improve quality of life before the fund ‘proper’ is launched next year, with clinically-led panels deciding on how to spend this money for patients locally.
The move does not take away from NICE’s remit, as the Institute will continue to appraise most significant new drugs and will have an important part to play in the government’s plans to switch to a system of value-based pricing for new medicines when the current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme expires, it said.
“Our longer-term plans will change the way we pay for drugs so that patients get better access to drugs and the NHS and the taxpayer get better value for money,” commented health secretary Andrew Lansley.
The DH has now kicked off a consultation over its plans, seeking public opinion on the arrangements and other proposals for the fund’s operation, including ways in which patients and clinicians can be supported to make the best treatment decisions and what the scope of the Fund should be.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has welcomed the launch of the public consultation and the government’s commitment of £200 million a year to help boost patient access to innovative cancer treatments.
Director-General Richard Barker said the consultation raises many important questions about how the fund will operate, such as “whether the fund should be administered at regional or national level and how to ensure that NHS cancer patients across England have a fair, timely and equal opportunity to benefit from the fund”.
The consultation will run until January 19, 2011.Its really important that as many cancer patients and families complete the consultation document and let the NHS know how we feel and to stress the need for this Cancer Drugs Fund to be continued for as long as some people in the NHS wish to refuse treatment to cancer patients.
Please contact me if you would like a consultation document sent to you by email..
or download it from our patient forum at www.kidneycancersupportnetwork.co.uk
This post was written by Rose Woodward on October 28, 2010
Rose Woodward – www.kidneycancersupportnetwork.co.uk
Last night in Scarborough Fred Binch died. Fred was a kidney cancer patient who was denied treatment by his Primary Care Trust. Fred’s Oncologist wanted to treat him him with a new and effective drug called Everolimus. Fred had responded well to previous treatments and his Dr’s thought he would do so again if he was given the opportunity. But somebody sitting behind a desk in a PCT Office miles from the Hospital deciided they knew better than the Oncologists and the MDT and they had a meeting and condemned Fred to a premature death all to save £100.00 per week. The difference between the cost of the treatment Fred had been taking and the new treatment they wanted to prescribe for him.
Imagine the last few weeks of your life knowing that a Group of people have decided you cannot have the treatment your Dr’s say you need. Someone like Fred didn’t have a cats chance in hell of being able to pay for the drug he needed. yet with dignity he just kept on fighting as his disease robbed him of his speech and his very life’s breath as a tumour continued to grow putting pressure on his windpipe. Cruel beyond understanding. This was a man who had worked hard all his life, married his childhood sweetheart, raised a family – lived a “good life”.
He was let down by the very people charged with looking after him. Do they care – do they even know? Fred was just another nameless, faceless statistic. A kidney cancer patient who had the audacity to ask to be treated.
To me he was a quiet hero. At peace now.
This post was written by Rose Woodward on September 1, 2010
I have been writing to a wonderful lady – the partner of a cancer patient called Ian Bowers. Ian and his family have been forced to pay for their own treatment for Ian cancer – the drug Ian’s Dr wants to prescribe for him is SUTENT. But Derbyshire Primary Care Trust ( using the word CARE and TRUST in their title seems outrageous for this organisation) will not pay for Ian’s treatment despite the fact ( scans to prove it ) the drug is working and is holding the cancer at bay, despite the fact that there is no alternative treatment, for Ian’s condition which is a very rare cancer, and despite the fact that Derbyshire PCT is sitting on nearly £2,000.000 – TWO MILLION, YES ………….TWO MILLION POUNDS……….. UNDERSPENT IN THEIR BANK ACCOUNT.
How can this happen in the year 2010 that a patients needs care and treatment – the money is there to pay for the treatment, the treatment is working but the highly paid administrators and NHS managers decide they know better than the Dr.s
This is a terrifying picture of what is happening to our wonderful NHS now the wrong people are in charge of making decisions about our cancer treatment.
I received this from Jane and with Janes permission, I would like to put it here so that anyone coming to this site will know what our fellow patients are going through. I find it almost unbearable to read.
Today was the NHS meeting that will decide whether Ian Bowers lives or dies. Of course no-one within the organisation had the decency or compassion to inform us of the outcome by phone. As it is also a bank holiday and the powers that be will doubtless have both Monday & Tuesday off we expect a letter will arrive at the end of next week. Ian has been vomiting for 2 days, which he has rationalised as “a bit of dodgy fish” but I think it is stress. The atmosphere crackles with tension. Our son has sensibly departed to his girlfriend’s house, perhaps sensing any slight misdemeanour on his part will cause WW3.
I consider myself a liberal pacifist but at this present moment I can understand what drives people to snap: to jump off a bridge or drive their car at 100 miles an hour into a wall; or lash out at someone who dares to cut in front and nonchalantly steals “my” parking space. If this was America I could empathise with the kids that take their parents’ guns and let loose in a shopping centre. The tension is unbearable.
This is what no-one in authority, or anyone who has never had to put their lives literally in non elected bureaucrats’ hands comprehends. Not only do we live with cancer and the very real threat of loss on a daily basis but we have also to cope with inequitable, unjust and infuriating systems that measure our lives in terms of algorithms and acronyms. QALY = quality adjusted life years – will this expensive drug give us value for money? Will the patient (an anonymous, faceless entity) live for more than a few months with the drug than without it and is a few months worth the investment. In many cases “no”. The patient regardless of age, current health and well being is not valued as an individual, a human being, but in terms of cost effectiveness. He/She will die anyway so why prolong the agony? Why give him the hope of a “cure” or the opportunity to have some normality, to take a holiday, to say goodbye, to make his/her peace with the world?
“We have to make difficult decisions” the bureaucrats state, I doubt “public health consultants” or “chief executives” ever lose sleep over the fact they have sentenced a human being to an early, agonising and untimely death because they have ensured that the money saved will provide several more meetings with buffets and drinks for their managers to compensate them for the “difficult decisions” they have to make.
Ian is watching inane TV, unsure how to cope with my impotent rage at the injustice of the situation we blamelessly find ourselves in. So I rage quietly in writing and pour another glass of wine. If I have a heart attack it won’t be the extraordinary “stress” these bureaucrats have caused us – it will be my lifestyle choices that are to blame. People say life is just a ride but sometimes I really just want to get off……
This post was written by Rose Woodward on May 29, 2010