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Sunday 25th March 2018

Cancer Patients Care anomalies condemned by the Conservatives

3rd November 2008

Cancer patients are facing a "post-code lottery" with some primary care trusts spending more than twice as much as others on prescription cancer drugs, the Tories claimed.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said that figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that on average PCTs in England spend £390.17 per patient.

But within the total there were sharp differences with the highest spending PCT, Mid Essex, paying out £594.55 per patient compared to the £150.51 per patient paid by the lowest spender, Barnsley.

Even if the two most extreme results are discounted to allow for any statistical anomalies, spending ranges from £221.28 in South Tyneside to £506.82 in Norfolk.

The data also showed wide discrepancies from region-to-region in spending on high cost new cancer drugs.

The West Midlands spent just £46 per 100 chemotherapy patients on Avastin, compared to £8,732 in London and an average of £1,748 for England as a whole.

When it came to Herceptin, spending per 100 chemotheraoy patients ranged from £31,717 in the East of England to £101,597 in the North East, against an average of £68,753.

Mr Lansley said that it was clear that the clinical treatment of patients in different parts of the country was being dictated by financial considerations.

"It is clear that in different parts of the country radically different approaches are being taken on whether patients should be given access to these new drugs," he said. "These variations are not justified by the clinical evidence, which means they must therefore be being dictated by financial considerations.

"Last year cancer drug spending stalled even as patients went without the latest medicines or were made to pay for them. This is a year when NHS budgets provided by taxpayers rose by nine per cent. Where has all the money gone?"

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