Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has spoken at the Northern Ireland Assembly during a recent debate on cancer drugs and has called for additional funding for drugs, staff training and facilities.
East Antrim representative Roy Beggs MLA said “Northern Ireland has developed its new cancer centre, and it has been responsible for significant improvements in outcomes locally. In conjunction with the centre, cutting edge research and trials have been happening in Northern Ireland. However, the limitation of specialist drugs limits the ability to carry out some of those trials. We risk being left behind by other regions.”
“England has its cancer fund, of about £200 million a year, and Scotland has recently developed its own new system. However, we are left with the individual funding request (IFR); a very limited process, the conditions of which significantly reduce the likelihood of clinicians enabling their patients to access some of those specialist drugs. It is essential that a cancer drug fund is developed in Northern Ireland, not only to help those who may be suffering from a particular form of cancer that needs specialist drugs, but so that we can continue to improve outcomes for everyone in Northern Ireland.”
Health Committee member Roy Beggs MLA added “In December 2011, the Assembly had a similar debate, calling for the Minister to review the creation of a cancer drugs fund. What has happened since then?”
“”I recently learned that the waiting room in the Belfast City Hospital cancer centre is, on occasion, standing-room only. We need more facilities. I have also learned that, if the fund was introduced, we could take time to train additional staff to be able to administer the scheme and train specialist nurses.”
“We also need to ensure additional funding in order to provide specialists testing for cancer drugs so optimal drugs are administered to patients.”
Concluding, Mr Beggs said “What is the situation now? Have we dropped down that league scale? Clearly, we need to improve a wide range of services, including the provision of specialist cancer drugs, to improve the health of our community.”
Notes for editor –