Sunday, June 08, 2008

More NHS nonsense.

While the BBC majors on a Tory shadow minister who paid her nanny from her parliamentary allowance 11 years ago headlines in the Sunday Times concentrate on a more pressing matter.

New cancer drugs do not usually become available to the NHS for a couple of years after they have been shown to be effective. Oncologists know that they work, but cannot provide them. Some people have the resources to fund their own treatment and will pay for their drugs. However, the Labor government has introduced a rule which says that if they do so then the NHS will not pay for any of their cancer care. Even mid way through a course of chemotherapy NHS treatment will be stopped the monment the patient takes a milligram of the forbidden medicine.

The Labor party is anyway beyond redemption, so it doesn't matter to them what they do. In a couple of years' time hundreds of Labor MPs will join the unemployment queues, and it is quite likely that they will be unemployable. However, this is so mean spirited as to be unimaginable.

It's even worse than that. Should a cancer patient decide to take a 'complementary therapy' that will do them no good and may even be harmful. it is quite permissable for them to have that and continue with their NHS cancer medicine.

Here's a confession. Twenty years ago I had a patient with terminal kidney cancer. His tumor was inoperable. He had large lymph nodes in his abdomen and chest. His lungs were so opaque on the chest X-ray that it was a wonder he could breathe. Both he and I had seen a television program about a new drug, Interleukin-2, which had produced remissions in kidney cancer patients. It was not available on the NHS but the drug company was willing to sell it to me for £9000 ($18,000).

His relatives clubbed together and raised the money. The hospital pharmacy had no means of receiving a donation of this sort, so he paid the money to a fund raising charity which I ran. The charity bought the drug and provided it for a small clinical trial that I set up. He had a miraculous response to the drug, entering a complete remission. Reader, he is still alive and cancer-free.


Anonymous said...

I've been critical of the NHS before, but this is such a typical liberal idea (thus, wrong) that it deserves comment.

The Canadian system has a similar philosophical argument: that no one should have better health care than the most wretched, poorest, least attached to normal society person. If you have the money, you are forbidden to hire a private health care (cracks are beginning in the system).

Personally, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to spend your money on whatever you want to, as long as it harms no one else. That includes healthcare.

Kudos to you and your miracle patient. I'm sure this is a rare event or IL-2 would be used all the time in renal cancers, and I don't think it is.

I hope the patient has used his extra time on Earth for good things. A heart-warming story, soon to be illegal in Britain.

Terry Hamblin said...

This is a rule that is supported by 7% of the British people.