Bradshaw: Greater access to cancer drugs has been a long time coming

Alliance Party Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said she is “delighted” at news from the Department of Health that the Individual Funding Request is finally to be reformed, giving access to new cancer drugs to Northern Ireland.

She said: “I know that there will be many individual campaigners and local cancer charities who will be just as delighted as I am at this news. In September 2016, one of the first things I did on becoming an MLA was to support Melanie Kennedy and the Northern Ireland Cancer Advocacy Movement in submitting a 10,000-strong petition to the former-Health Minister in the Assembly Chamber, calling for access to new cancer drugs here in Northern Ireland. Since this time, I have joined their crusade and so this announcement today feels like such a relief, knowing how many patients will now have their lives extended through accessing new and innovative treatments.

“On May 8, 2018, as Chair of the All Party Group on Cancer, I convened a stakeholder event in the Long Gallery of Parliament Buildings. In attendance were MLAs from the five main parties, representatives from cancer charities and patients’ groups, pharmaceutical companies, representative bodies, oncologists and other clinicians. The event was organised to facilitate a discussion around the current situation in Northern Ireland as regards access to drug treatments that are not commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board, and to ensure that everyone is fully aware of the challenges this presents for patients and their families.

“Following this meeting, the five parties signed a lengthy letter outlining ways in which access to new and innovative cancer drugs could be improved and highlighting the disparities with other parties of the UK. It would appear that the Department of Health has finally bowed to pressure on this issue and that is to be warmly welcomed.”

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