Exceptional progress?

A new report from the Rarer Cancers Forum suggests that 16,000 people in the United Kingdom have been denied cancer drugs by Great Britain's government-controlled National Health Service (NHS).

Key findings:

  • Although progress has been made in gaining access to treatment, with 8,750 more patients being given vital treatment, 16,000 have still been denied access to treatments that they may need.

  • The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) needs to improve drug assessment time periods – with the Institute taking 21 months to appraise new cancer drugs, rather than the 6 months promised by ministers.

    Additional findings:

  • 40 per cent of patients described their Primary Care Trusts (PCT's) cancer policy as easy to understand.

  • 36 per cent of patients cannot find vital procedures and policies on PCT Websites.

  • 49 per cent of patients were unclear about how quickly they would hear a decision on a request for treatment.

    Andrew Wilson, Chief Executive of the Rarer Cancers Forum says: "Although progress has been made in improving access to cancer treatments since the publication of the top-ups review, there is still more to do.

    "It is unacceptable that many thousands of patients are still missing out on the treatment they need, and which their doctors want to give them, because NICE has decided that their treatment does not meet some arbitrary criteria. The changes introduced by NICE should be benefitting more patients than they are doing at the moment. An urgent review of NICE's processes is needed."

    Source: Report, Exceptional Progress? Assessing the progress made in improving access to treatment for people with rarer cancers, Rarer Cancers Forum, March 2010.

    For report: http://www.rarercancers.org.uk/news/current/rarer_cancers_forum_highlights_lack_of_progress_in_implementing__top_ups_review_recommendations/exceptionalprog.pdf

    For more on Health Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=16

    First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas and Washington, USA

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 23 March 2010
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