Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has hit out at the failure of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland even to explain the delay in approving new cancer treatments here, after a new children’s cancer drug was approved by NHS England in record time.
The South Belfast MLA stated: “Since 2013 Northern Ireland has been committed to follow the recommendations of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), as in England and Wales, but has introduced neither a Cancer Drugs Fund nor the Conditional Approval mechanism introduced in England in 2016. This failure is likely to have left 700 people in Northern Ireland without vital treatment since the summer of 2016.
“Additionally, England also benefits from managed access arrangements which increase efficiency and reduce cost. These are also not available in Northern Ireland.
“The failure to ensure equitable treatment for people with cancer in Northern Ireland is brought into sharp focus this morning by the enabling of the use of a new cancer therapy (known as CAR-T) for children in England in record time.
“Before the summer I wrote to the Department on behalf of the All-Party Group on Cancer in the Assembly outlining that, since it is an existing Ministerial decision for Northern Ireland to follow NICE guidelines, no Ministerial authorisation is required to introduce similar mechanisms here to those existing in England. There has been no response.
“The Department must now respond urgently outlining how it will implement the existing decision, backed by an all-party Assembly Group, to follow English practice and ensure vital cancer treatments are available in Northern Ireland at the same time and on the same basis.”