Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cancer drug consultation flawed

Keep Our NHS Public are an excellent group. Below is a press release which adds to the recent news about top-ups. The two tier service that is emerging is fundamentally against the founding principles of the NHS. We shouldn't ban people from having NHS treatment because they try additional drugs, but neither should we stop effective drugs from being available on the NHS. The NHS should be able to clearly demonstrate that any treatment that is not available is not effective and is a waste of time and money. Sadly this is not the case at present.

Press release from KONP:

There is no reason why the best drugs cannot be available to all NHS patients, the Keep Our NHS Public campaign has said, but the Government has wrongly excluded this option from the current consultation over cancer drugs.
Following the report by Professor Richards, the Government’s clinical director for cancer, Keep Our NHS Public said the consultation was flawed as the consultation document accepts that private drugs are acceptable alongside NHS care but does not ask the fundamental question of whether this is appropriate.
In his report Prof Richards states that ‘I believe that the option of NHS top-ups should be rejected,’ yet his recommendations accept this in practice, despite the fact that the number of patients requiring such treatment is small and the cost negligible in the context of the NHS budget.
Professor Wendy Savage, chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said:
This undermines the key principle of the NHS – that a patients’ wealth should have no bearing on the quality of the care available to them. It introduces a two tier system and already the private insurance business is welcoming the profits they can make.”
“There is no justification for a situation where desperate families have to use life savings to afford effective drugs denied them by the health service. But the option of providing all necessary care on the NHS is not mentioned in the consultation document. No figures are given for the cost of equitable NHS provision, which on the basis of the available evidence is likely to be less than 0.001% of the annual NHS budget.”
“The Government’s policy, while appearing compassionate on the surface, is in fact deeply disturbing. We call on all concerned citizens and organisations to respond to the consultation on these lines and involve their MPs to fight this dangerous move that threatens the very basis of the NHS.”

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