THE £220 million-a-year Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) – which helps sufferers in England get access to life-enhancing medication – has been slammed by the Welsh Government.
The broadside came after Wrexham pensioner and cancer sufferer Jimmy Chesters, 76, said patients in Wales should also get access to the CDF.
Mr Chesters was reacting to yesterday’s announcement from the coalition Government in Westminster that an extra £400 million is to be pumped into the fund to keep it running in England until at least 2016.
But the Welsh Government said the scheme puts the interests of the big pharmaceutical companies over the needs of cancer sufferers.
The initiative is not available in Wales and Mr Chesters, of Bickerton Drive, Summerhill, said that must change.
Originally diagnosed with cancer several years ago, Mr Chesters now needs treatment as the cancer has returned.
He was shocked when a doctor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where he has been receiving treatment, told him the drugs he thinks could save his life could cost £25,000 a year.
He has been given help towards covering the cost of the drugs thanks to fundraising which is taking place in the Gwersyllt community.
The CDF was set up in 2011 to help patients in England access certain drugs before they get approval for widespread NHS use.
The scheme was due to end next year, but on Thursday Prime Minister David Cameron pledged £400 million to keep it running.
In response to the issues raised by Mr Chesters, a Welsh Government spokesman said: “Most of us know someone who has been affected by cancer at some point in their lives. That is why we are committed to providing the best support for cancer sufferers, and that is why we spend £11.92 more per head on cancer treatment than they do in England.
“As a result Wales has the fastest improvement in the UK for cancer survival rates since 1993.
“It is a cruel deception that all cancer sufferers are able to access drugs through the fund. Latest figures show that less than three out of 10 applications to the CDF in England were approved. Compared to Wales, where twice the level of requests for non-NICE approved medicines are approved.”