Saturday, November 29, 2014

UK Health Radio Medical News Update on the Hour - Drugs U Turn

UK Health Radio Medical News Update on the Hour

Drugs U Turn

The BBC’s health reporter Hugh Pym has covered a story that the Letters sent to hospital chiefs and cancer research leaders by NHS England about a cut in funding for care of patients taking part in drug trials may be incorrect. The letter sent to health bosses in London blamed the "financial climate".
NHS England has now over-ruled the letter, which was obtained by Labour and seen by the BBC and says it will be writing to area teams to clarify the position.
Excess treatment costs (ETCs) cover the care of patients involved in drug trials that are not already covered by the pharmaceutical or academic research body involved.
Traditionally the NHS has covered these costs for patients who take part in the trials.
The letter from the head of specialised commissioning at NHS England London Region, dated 21 November, was written to hospital trust medical directors and leaders in the field of cancer research.
It said: "I am sure you will appreciate that in the current financial climate, the primary call for resources is to support clinical service provision for established service priorities.
"To this end, the NHS England London Region Area Team is unable to identify any uncommitted resources which could be used to support ETCs for clinical trials.
"This is the national position which is being adopted, in respect of all current requests for ETCs."
Andy Burnham, Labour's shadow health secretary, called the withdrawal of the letter "a U-turn".
He added: "This was announced as a new national policy to be rolled out and we are not convinced that this is simply an inaccurate letter. "[Health Secretary] Jeremy Hunt must make a full statement to clarify what has happened."
Mr Burnham said the letter "indicates the growing financial crisis in the NHS". Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said the episode had been "shambolic" and it was clear the health service needed more money.
Prof Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "The partnership between the NHS and organisations which fund research, such as Cancer Research UK, has been a great success story.
"We lead the world in being able to offer patients participation in clinical trials, but all this will be undone if the NHS cannot keep its side of the bargain."
A spokesman for NHS England said: "We strongly support medical research and we will fund excess treatment costs in line with the national rules, so these local letters were incorrect and are being withdrawn."
Have you every volunteered for a clinical trial?  We would love to hear what you think about this story.

Amanda Thomas

UK Health Radio Medical News Update on the Hour

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