John Baron MP questions Government over age discrimination in NHS cancer services, and Avastin

September 8, 2010

During Health Questions in the House of Commons yesterday, John Baron MP questioned both the Rt. Hon. Andrew Lansley CBE MP [Secretary of State for Health] and Paul Burstow MP [Minister of State] about the future of cancer services for the elderly. He also asked what measures could be introduced to reverse NICE’s recent refusal of Avastin, when it comes to late stage bowel cancer. John is Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer [APPGC], which has been campaigning for better cancer services in the UK.

John said:

“The under treatment of the elderly in the NHS remains a pressing problem, which was highlighted in a recent report on cancer inequalities by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer. Can he assure us that the over 75s will not be excluded from the one or five year cancer survival measures, once they are constructed.”

In response, Paul Burstow MP said this was an important point. He said it is important the NHS ensures that older people receive treatments that will enable them to survive cancer, and that John’s representations will be fully considered in the ongoing consultation.

John said afterwards:

“Some NHS cancer targets presently exclude the over 75s which clearly shows age discrimination. This must end. In future cancer treatment must be evidence based regardless of age. I was therefore encouraged by the Minister’s response.”

John also asked:

“Is any flexibility available to allow the interim cancer drug fund to review more speedily adverse NICE decisions, because in certain cases, as we know with Avastin for late stage bowel cancer, a few months or even weeks can make a big difference to patients.”

The Secretary of State responded by saying they are proceeding as rapidly as possible so that from 1st October the regional panels of expert clinicians can look at individual cases.

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