Durkan raises cancer drugs issue

Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan.
Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan.

SDLP Mark H Durkan MLA has written to the Royal College of Physicians to ask how the current situation, whereby 39 cancer drugs that are available in England are not available here, potentially impacts on the profession of its members in an ethical and moral sense.

Mr Durkan said the Health Minister had a duty to provide “prudent policy” and said he hoped to receive a response soon.

“Through meeting with various clinicians and patients the SDLP is aware that often doctors are recommending treatment paths for cancer patients here while they are aware that better, more effective, and life lengthening treatments exist in linked health structures in England, Wales and Scotland.

“The SDLP has been lobbying the Health Minister for some time to end the inequality in terms of cancer drugs access here and I raised this particular issue in the Assembly last week during a debate on Cancer Services.

“The Department of Health and the Minister have a duty to medical staff to provide prudent policy that allows them to do their job to the best of their ability. Cancer Drugs policy here is prohibiting clinicians from prescribing the best possible treatment to their patients whilst their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales face no such problem.”