Cancer Drugs Fund not freebie policies

The National Assembly will vote on establishing a Cancer Drugs Fund for Wales tomorrow following a Welsh Conservative debate on improving cancer services.


Last week, a report published by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, concluded that while survival rates are improving, the number of people in Wales being diagnosed with cancer is rising.


The Welsh Labour Government has a target for 95% of patients with urgent suspected cancer to start treatment within 62 days of referral.  The target has not been met once in three years.


There are currently 24 cancer medicines which are available to patients in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund, but are denied to patients in Wales.


It has been estimated that a Cancer Drugs Fund could cost as little as £3.3million.  Last year, the Welsh Labour Government spent over £3million on free toothbrushes, over £200,000 on Madeira cake and other luxury gluten-free foodstuffs and £40million on free prescriptions, including Bonjela and Paracetamol for all.


Darren Millar AM, Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services, said, “In the Welsh Labour-run NHS, too many cancer patients are waiting beyond target waiting times for treatment, while many patients are being denied vital medicines.


“The Rarer Cancers Foundation has highlighted 24 cancer medicines, which are readily available to patients in England, while patients in Wales face a postcode lottery.


“It is grossly unfair that Welsh cancer patients and their families should have to fight for life-extending treatment at a time when they are most vulnerable.


"It is time for Welsh Labour Ministers to ditch freebie policies such as free prescriptions for millionaires and free toothbrushes and invest in a Cancer Drugs Fund so Welsh patients have equality of access to vital treatments.


“With more people being diagnosed with cancer, the pressure is on Welsh Labour Ministers to reassess their priorities and to look again at their cuts to the NHS."



More people in Wales are being diagnosed with cancer

A report published last week by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit concluded that the number of people diagnosed with cancer is rising, although survival rates are improving.


24 cancer medicines not available to Welsh patients

In August 2011, the Rarer Cancers Foundation reported that patients in Wales are five times less likely to receive new cancer drugs, than patients in England.  There are 24 cancer medicines that are readily available to patients in England, but not in Wales: