Friday, 7 September 2007

You can live in Scotland, but die in England

The Northern Echo is today highlighting the latest life-saving cancer drug to be freely available on the NHS in Scotland, but unavailable in England.

Tarceva, used to treat lung cancer, has been approved for NHS use north of the border for over a year, but is "effectively banned" in England by NICE, England's independent licensing watchdog.

The Northern Echo highlights the case of Jimmy Jenkyns from South Shields, who is having to pay £1,700 a month to afford Tarceva, which has seen his tumour shrink by a third.

Jimmy's wife, Deanne, said it was "outrageous" that patients in Scotland could get Tarceva on the NHS but not in England.

Joyce Dunlop, director of patient care for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation told the Northern Echo that "There are a fair few people who are buying this drug now and some PCTs are using that against them, which I think is outrageous."

People in England are being denied yet another life-saving cancer drug on the grounds of cost. And yet, with money from the English taxpayer via the Barnett Formula, people in Scotland are being given the drug free on the NHS.

The situation is simply outrageous. And yet our MPs at the UK Parliament of Westminster stay relatively quiet for fear of "damaging the Union".

The English seem to be paying an ever-higher price to save the Union.