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Trusts pay out over cancer drug top-up wrangle

28 October 2008

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The NHS has begun reimbursing cancer patients forced to purchase life-prolonging drugs privately after being turned down by their trusts, it has emerged.

Bromley Primary Care Trust said it had already compensated one patient after a decision not to fund treatment was overturned at appeal. Wandsworth Primary Care Trust has also received a written request for a refund.

Wandsworth PCT chairman Ian Reynolds told a King’s Fund conference: “We’re being sent bills by people turned down by exceptional treatment panels and who have then gone private. We’re not liable to pay but the reality is that these claims will now end up in court.”

Katherine Murphy of the Patients’ Association said these claims were “the tip of the iceberg”, adding: “The numbers will be far higher once this is more of an open issue and once people know about it.

“People have gone to great lengths, sometimes having to sell their homes to pay for treatments which have been denied to them.”

Current rules mean patients cannot top up NHS treatment with expensive private drugs, even if they are not available on the NHS.

A review, by cancer tsar Professor Mike Richards, into restrictions on NHS patients topping up was ordered amid an outcry over some patients being refused care after buying life-prolonging drugs not authorised for NHS use.

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The Patients’ Association

The latest Management in Practice survey has been extended until Friday! Recent news – such as the above story – has meant the survey, on healthcare finance topics, is more pertinent than ever. So we’d love to know your thoughts on top-up payments, prescription charges, practice income issues and more. Completing the survey will take just 5 minutes and the results will be reported in the Winter 2008 issue of Management in Practice magazine. There will also be a prize draw where four lucky winners will win £50 worth of Marks & Spencer vouchers. Simply click here to take part