Thursday

If you get cancer, it is better to live in France, Switzerland or probably any advanced country rather than Britain

After all the extra money that has been pumped into the NHS, we still underprescribe the latest drugs. People have died as a result and will continue to die. It is shocking and dismaying.
The report – in lots of newspapers this morning – is very important. It is based on an updated version of the report I cited in the revised and updated paperback edition of The Welfare State We’re In. It is the clearest evidence that the extra money put into the NHS has not and will not result in an improvement in Britain’s inferior treatment of those with cancer. It is simply the case that if a person gets cancer in Britain, he or she is more likely to die than would be the case in France, America or other advanced countries. Since the NHS is continuing to underprescribe the latest drugs, this will continue to be the case.
Here is the story as it appears in the Independent:

British patients are being denied access to life-saving cancer drugs that are widely available in the rest of Europe and the developed world, according to a report.
The NHS’s “penny-pinching” attitude to new treatments and “excessive bureaucracy” surrounding their assessment is condemning cancer sufferers in Britain to an early death, it says.
A review of the availability of 67 new cancer drugs in 25 countries has found that Britain languishes close to the bottom of the league. along with Poland, the Czech Republic, South Africa and New Zealand.
The authors, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, say research in the US, which has the highest use of new cancer drugs, has shown that new treatments have significantly increased the chances of surviving cancer.
A separate study of 20 countries showed that nearly a third of the improvement in cancer survival between 1995 and 2003 could be attributed to new drugs.
In Europe, the UK has the lowest survival rates and the lowest use of new drugs compared with the major Western countries of France, Spain, Germany and Italy. In all four countries, more than half of cancer patients were being treated with drugs launched since 1985, but in the UK only 40 per cent were.

The full story is here.

  1. Slow take-up of new cancer drugs by the NHS
  2. In some areas, most patients get in Herceptin. In others only 10 per cent
  3. Under-prescription of drugs in Britain
  4. “the NHS is administering only about half the amount of radiotherapy needed to treat British patients properly”
  5. ‘We have more compassion for animals in this country than our elderly’
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