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Published on 18 August 2008

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Call for consistency in drug rules

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Local healthcare trusts should take action to end Britain’s postcode lottery row, according to the boss of the NHS’s drug approval body.

Andrew Dillon, chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), said primary care trusts should show consistency when deciding whether to make funds available for medicines.

There has been mounting public anger over the number of drugs and treatments being blocked by NICE, with experts pointing to inconsistencies between different trusts.

“It shouldn’t make any difference where you live,” Mr Dillon told the BBC’s Panorama programme. “There ought to be a common basis for making decisions about exceptional circumstances and I think anybody who uses the NHS for their care is entitled to expect that.”

NHS trusts have a legal obligation to provide treatments approved by NICE. For treatments with no such approval, a patient must appeal to a committee at the local trust which can choose to fund it as an exceptional case.

Cancer consultant Mark Saunders, from Manchester, claimed there were huge inconsistencies. “Most of the time we apply to Cheshire as they tend to fund patients that have exceptional circumstances,” he said.

“If we apply to the Manchester Primary Care Trust then in the eight applications we’ve made they’ve only accepted one for funding in 2006.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

NICE



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