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Top doctors slam NHS drug rationing

Britain’s top cancer consultants have accused the labour government’s drugs rationing body of ignoring the plight of patients forced to sell their cars and remortgage their houses to pay for cancer treatments freely available in Europe.

Twenty-six professors blame the severe restrictions imposed by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) on its failure to “get its sums right”.

Nice refuses, on grounds of cost, to recommend some drugs for patients with advanced kidney cancer. The consultants, who include the directors of oncology at Britain’s two biggest cancer hospitals, the Royal Marsden in London and Christie hospital in Manchester, claim there is enough money in the NHS to pay for the drugs.

Their letter to The Sunday Times states: “We now spend similar amounts to Europe on health generally and cancer care in particular, but less than two thirds of the European average on cancer drugs. It just can’t be that everybody else around the world is wrong about access to innovative cancer care and the NHS right in rationing it so severely.” They say: “The time has come for a radical change in how the NHS makes rationing decisions for cancer.”

This weekend Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of Nice, and Sir Michael Rawlins, the chairman, challenged the cancer experts to explain which acutely ill patients should be sacrificed to free resources for cancer sufferers.

They said: “There is a finite pot of money for the NHS, which is determined annually by parliament. If one group of patients is provided with cost-ineffective care, other groups – lacking powerful lobbyists – will be denied cost-effective care for miserable conditions like schizophrenia, Crohn’s disease or cystic fibrosis.”

This week patients from the Kidney Cancer Support Network will demonstrate outside the Nice offices in London against the refusal to fund the kidney cancer drugs Avastin, Sutent, Nexavar and Torisel.

Health Direct asks if National Insurance was brought in so that we could pay for our medicine . was NICE was brought in so there would be some money left in the kitty for “drinks at Christmas “?

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