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Legal Experts Calls For End To Cancer Drug ‘Postcode Lottery’

Department Of Health Study Raises Concerns


Lawyers specialising in health and social care law are calling on the NHS to review the systems it has in place in respect to accessing of cancer care, following the release of a report which has raised concerns of a postcode lottery for the availability of drug treatment.

The Daily Mail reported on a Department of Health study which has raised concerns that potentially life-extending drugs approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) up to seven years ago are not being made available by the NHS to some patients.

A variation was also identified between some hospitals offering such drugs and others failing to do so at all. Little is known as to why certain NHS hospitals are not providing the drugs. There is a general concern that more expensive treatment is being rationed.

Charities and ministers have reacted strongly to the research and called for improvements in terms of tackling the variations.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team have vast expertise in the areas of healthcare and human rights. This includes helping people to seek justice in relation to unfair postcode lotteries related to treatment. Postcode lotteries exist where one area’s NHS body agrees to fund treatment but another NHS body in another part of the country refuses access to the same medical care or drug treatment.

Yogi Amin, a Partner and expert in the field, said: “This research has clearly raised very serious concerns and it is vital that the NHS and NICE work together to review and consider how this issue has emerged.

“Patients across England and Wales rightly expect to have access to the most effective treatments available, so the kind of inequality identified in this study shows there is much work to be done to ensure there is an overall consistency on access to cancer treatment and care provided by the NHS.

“We hope that improvements can be made in this area as soon as possible and a clear communication strategy is put in place so that doctors and patients are fully aware of those medicines and treatment that are considered safe and effective by NICE.”