Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

CANCER MOVE WELCOMED; Widow Grateful Husband's Campaign for Life-Prolonging Drugs Worked

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

CANCER MOVE WELCOMED; Widow Grateful Husband's Campaign for Life-Prolonging Drugs Worked

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

A GRIEVING mam today welcomed a health shake-up that has seen hundreds of dying patients given life-prolonging treatment.

Health chiefs were left with a 40% underspend despite more than 200 patients from across the region calling on the three-year scheme to provide treatment for sufferers.

A pounds 600m fund was put aside for Trusts across the country to fund drugs which had been banned by NICE, the NHS rationing body, if doctors believed it would benefit a patient.

The Cancer Drugs Fund saw pounds 50m made available from last October until April, divided up between the 10 regional Strategic Health Authorities in England.

But a report by the Rarer Cancers Foundation has found that nearly half of this money, pounds 22m, was never spent.

Fears that clinicians would lose control of the fund and costs would spiral out of control proved to be unfounded as large chunks of the pot remained unspent.

In the North East, health chiefs were left with more than 40% of the pounds 2.8m they had been allocated - despite approving every single applicant.

Today Rhonda Hedley welcomed the move but spoke of her loss. Last year her husband, Guy, from Blyth, in Northumberland, died of bowel and stomach cancer, aged just 48.

Throughout his illness he had fought for access to the life-prolonging drug, Avastin, and during his final years spent more than pounds 11,000 to fund courses of the treatment. Guy died on March 19 last year at Newcastle's Marie Curie Hospice. In a desperate bid to help their dad, his daughters, Amy, 17, and Claire, 15, even wrote to the then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown asking him to help in their dad's case. Mrs Hedley, 43, a nursery nurse said: "I'm pleased that other people are sitting up and listening - I feel like Guy was a pioneer and his campaigning made a difference. …

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