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Think tank questions funding for Tory cancer drugs promise

6 April 2010

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Funding for plans to give NHS patients access to cancer drugs that are licensed and widely available in Europe, but have not been approved by NICE, has been questioned by the medicines advisory board.

The Conservative Party has promised the funding and said the estimated £200m-a-year cost could be met by savings the NHS will make as an employer with the Tory plans to drop next year’s National Insurance increase. However, the King’s Fund believes the money will need to come from elsewhere in the NHS budget.

A spokesman for the King’s Fund said: “The Conservative Party have made clear in their proposals that the funding that would otherwise go to pay for increased national insurance contributions from April 2011 would be used to create a cancer fund.

“As this increase has not yet been implemented and given other pressures on the NHS budget, the £200m funding would need to be generated by planned cash-releasing efficiency savings.”

He also said oncologists were divided over whether there should be wider access to certain cancer drugs, as the NHS had to make the best use of limited financial resources.

But Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley (pictured) said: “We have been very clear we are going to protect the NHS budget, we are going to increase the budget each year in real terms, so within that budget from next year onwards the employers in the NHS don’t have to spend £200m-plus on an increase in National Insurance, they will have that money available to meet other needs.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

The King’s Fund