Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by CancerBACUP

  As we stated in our original evidence to the Committee last year, we believe it is essential that patients have a more central role in determining research priorities. The creation of a Consumer Liaison Group as part of the National Cancer Research Institute is a very positive step, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this group. The NCRI recently established a thinktank on consumer involvement in research. CancerBACUP alongside other organisations has taken part in that process, which will lead to the imminent publication of a report. The committee may wish to obtain further information on this from the director of the NCRI.

  We would also reiterate another point we made in our original evidence, which is the need to ensure faster access to effective new anti-cancer treatments. CancerBACUP welcomed yesterday's announcement by Lord Hunt that NICE guidance on cancer drugs will be binding on health authorities from January 2002. The charity is concerned, however, that the new guidance should apply to those drugs which are already approved by NICE but not yet widely available. An independent survey by CancerBACUP undertaken in November 2001 found that most health authorities in England and Wales do not know whether patients in their area are receiving cancer treatment that NICE says should be available. The survey also found that as many as a third of health authorities do not make specific funds available to implement national guidance on lung cancer, which is the UK's biggest cancer killer.

  The key findings are as follows:

    —  Fewer than half of the health authorities in England and Wales have a policy for monitoring local compliance with NICE guidance. The majority are unable to say whether national guidance on cancer treatments is being implemented.

    —  Guidance issued by NICE last year on taxanes for treating breast and ovarian cancer is being implemented almost everywhere. But guidance on a wide range of treatments for other types of cancer is not being followed in all parts of the country. For example, only 15 per cent of respondents to the survey said that specific funds are available to implement NICE guidance on lung cancer.

Joanne Rule

Chief Executive

6 December 2001

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