NHS drug rationing plans should be reversed
NHS drug rationing: More than 30 charities have written to the three UK party leaders urging them to commit to reversing NHS measures to increase rationing of medicines. Health officials last month brought in new thresholds which mean access to one in five treatments could be delayed or restricted.
NHS drug rationing: Under the rules, all drugs expected to cost the NHS a total more than £20 million a year will be checked against new “affordability criteria”.
The cost threshold set by NHS England could affect medicines costing as little eight pence a day, if used commonly enough, as well as high cost medicines used for rare diseases.
Rationing body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said it is likely to affect around 20 per cent of drugs it assesses, with the process including changes that the head of its rationing body has previously described as “unfair”.
In an open letter to Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron, the charities – which include Parkinson’s UK, the Children’s Heart Federation and the MS Society – ask all the parties to commit to reversing the changes.
Quick Facts: Why is the NHS under so much pressure?
- An ageing population. There are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago
- Cuts to budgets for social care. While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11 per cent in five years
- This has caused record levels of bedblocking, meaning elderly people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there. Latest quarterly figures show occupancy rates are the highest they have ever been at this stage of the year, while days lost to bedblocking are up by one third in a year
- Rising numbers of patients are turning up in A&E – around four million more in the last decade, partly fuelled by the ageing population
- Shortages of GPs mean waiting times to see a doctor have got longer, and many argue that access to doctors since a 2004 contract removed responsibility for out of hours care.