Scottish patients are being denied life extending drugs as the postcode lottery in cancer drug treatment continues almost a year after Health Secretary, Alex Neil, promised change.
The delay was exposed at First Minister’s Questions on Nicola Sturgeon’s first appearance in her new role.
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie MSP told the new First Minister that Mr Neil, her successor at Health, had broken promises made to cancer sufferers that a new system would be in place to allow them access to life extending drugs.
Anyone with cancer could seek treatments not normally available free in the NHS under the Individual Patient Treatment Requests system (IPTR) but there was no uniform decision making process across Scotland.
Jackie Baillie said this had led to a “postcode lottery” of care and she highlighted the case of a Glasgow woman, Jean MacDonald, who has had to pay £35,000 for drugs to fight her ovarian cancer while the same drugs were prescribed free to patients along the M8 in Edinburgh.
Last year, Mr Neil announced the creation of the Peer Approved Clinical System (PACS) which would give patients access to the treatments they required based on need and not on where they lived or their ability to pay.
Ms Baillie said: “Alex Neil said the new system would be introduced in May but he’s failed to deliver and that’s what really upsets relatives of cancer patients he spoke to earlier this year. He’s broken his promise to those like Jean, and others, suffering from a terminal illness deserve better than that.
“It’s almost a year since the Health Secretary announced that PACS would be in place by May. Yet, here we are, with patients suffering terminal illness still being denied access to drugs that could extend their life depending on where they live.
“When will the Scottish Government treat cancer patients in Scotland with the dignity and respect they deserve