NHS cancer drug cost fear14th May 2007
Cancer specialists have told the BBC they are worried the NHS will not be able to afford new drugs to treat cancer.
Doctors are concerned that patients may have to fund their own drug treatments. 180 oncology doctors responded to a BBC questionnaire saying they were
"worried" or "very worried" about the situation.
In some trusts, patients who have offered to pay for a drug to treat their cancer have been informed they would need to meet all their care costs. The problems arise because of different understandings of policies separating private and NHS care.
As more new drugs are developed, they are submitted to the English NHS advisory body NICE to see if they are cost effective.
Nick James, professor of clinical oncology in Birmingham, commented: "The drugs in the pipeline are going to cause even more pressure. I think politicians need to be honest and say this gap is going to be there and we need to look at ways of filling it."
In England, the Department of Health's policy is that permitting patients to make payments towards their NHS care - known as co-payment - acts against the core tenets of the health service.
In Scotland, the Chief Medical Officer has recommended a more flexible approach to allow "the safe provision of concurrent treatment where appropriate."
The National Cancer director for England, Professor Mike Richards, published a report stating that cancer care had improved.
He said: "We have got to look at whether we are using the current money on cancer in the NHS as effectively as we can."
He added: "There are limits to what the health service can pay."
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Thursday 17th May 2007 @ 13:56
If some patients can afford to pay for their own drugs, then surely this will free up money to pay for those who cannot afford it?
It seems absolutely potty not to allow people to pay in part for their treatment.
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Title: NHS cancer drug cost fear
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 2825
Date Added: 14th May 2007