Lady Archer backs patients in row over top-up drugs

Lady Archer has backed demands for patients to be allowed to pay for additional medicines without losing their NHS care by releasing a survey showing that more than 80% of patients at the trust she chairs back the change.

The survey, of more than 800 patients, shows that 82% of NHS patients back the right to pay for top-up medicines.

The survey also found that more than 90% of doctors and nurses favour patients being allowed to pay supplements for proven cancer drugs which are not funded by the NHS.

Archer, chairwoman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has submitted the results to Mike Richards, the government’s cancer czar, who is conducting an inquiry into the scandal of withdrawing NHS treatment from patients who pay for private medicines.
Private drug helps cancer man left to die

In a letter to Richards, copied to Alan Johnson, the health secretary, Archer described the policy of penalising patients who choose to pay privately for drugs as “illogical and unjust”.

Archer, wife of Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced Tory peer and novelist, also said the co-payments should be allowed, not just for cancer medicines, but for all effective procedures and treatments which are not funded by the NHS.

Christoph Lees, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Cambridge NHS Trust, said the labour government should make “sensible provision for patients to exercise what should be their right, rather than penalise them for their choice”.

Meanwhile, nine professors of rheumatology at University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, in central London, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have claimed British arthritis patients are less likely to get the medicines they need than those in Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

In a letter to The Sunday Times, they accuse the National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (NICE) of making a “senseless decision” by ruling that arthritis sufferers who are not successfully treated by one of a group of medicines known as anti-TNF treatments can’t switch to another type.


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