Flintshire cancer patient in a dilemma over treatment lottery

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A FLINTSHIRE cancer patient has fallen foul of a cross-border lottery after he tried to pay for a life-prolonging drug privately.

The man, who does not want to be named, has been told he would have to pay for all his treatment if he decided to pay for cancer drug Avastin privately.

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood said it was a ‘cross-border lottery’ after being told an English patient would be able to pay for the drug and still get free care.

He said: “I was approached by a patient who was sadly told in January that he was expected to live for less than 12 months. The Local Health Board confirmed what my constituent was advised about the policy difference between England and Wales: if he now liquidates his life savings and policies to pay for the drug privately, he will also have to pay for his treatment, CT scans, blood tests and so forth, but would not have to do so if he lived a few miles away in England.

“If he was to do this, and liquidated his life savings, he would leave his wife with nothing except for the basic state pension to live on.”

Mr Isherwood challenged the Welsh Government over its policy during a debate in the Assembly.

He said: “There is, effectively, a cross-border lottery in provision, hence my call for a statement in the hope that we can address that apparent lottery so that people in this unenviable position do not have to use their savings to pay for their treatment.”

In response Jane Hutt the minister for Business and Budget, said: “It is important, as you know, that we have National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence approval of the clinical effectiveness of such life-extending drugs, and I am sure that your constituents would recognise and agree with that.

“We must also recognise that there are policy differences.

“In Wales, we have free prescriptions for all and for all conditions.”

After the debate Mr Isherwood described the response as “inhumane and outrageous, completely lacking in any sense of compassion or fairness.”

See full story in the Leader

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