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Interim Cancer Drugs Fund

Volume 520: debated on Tuesday 7 December 2010

1. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the operation of the interim cancer drugs fund; and if he will make a statement. (28698)

12. What recent representations he has received on the operation of the interim cancer drugs fund; and if he will make a statement. (28709)

Clinically led arrangements are in place in all strategic health authorities for determining the best use of the additional funds that we have made available for cancer drugs from 1 October 2010. Information provided by SHAs shows that, as of 15 November, funding had been agreed for the treatment of more than 250 patients in England. I have received representations from hon. Members, noble Lords, and members of the public on how the interim arrangements for cancer drugs funding are operating. Many of those representations have welcomed the additional support we are giving to cancer patients in need.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his response. Last week, my constituent, Trudy Cusworth, received the news that she is to be given the cancer drug Avastin, despite the panel at St James’s university hospital, Leeds initially refusing to do so. In this case, the emergency cancer drugs fund has done its job, but what can the Secretary of State say to assure other cancer patients in North Yorkshire who are also in desperate need of such life-prolonging drugs and who are currently being denied access to them?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. Indeed, I want to thank him for the support he has given to Trudy Cusworth. I am very pleased that she was able to take her case, with her clinicians, to the panel and that it has been approved. There are a number of people in the York and Selby area for whom that is true. The panels are working across the country to ensure additional access to cancer drug treatments where a clinical case is made for that.

My constituents are pretty angry and disappointed that the cancer drugs fund will not apply to them because health matters have been devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that he will champion the merits of the policy in the hope of convincing the Welsh Assembly Government to follow the lead that he is offering?

I agree with my hon. Friend, who is obviously an advocate for his constituents to the Welsh Assembly Government. These are matters for the devolved Administrations and they must decide how to allocate their resources. In this instance we have shared with the devolved Administrations the consultation on the cancer drugs fund, which will start next April, although the policy proposed will apply in England alone.