Public engagement needed

SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan.
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan.

SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H. Durkan, has called on the public to engage with Altnagelvin Hospital over its consultation on access to specialised medicines.

Speaking after his office attended the consultation in Altnagelvin Hospital Mr. Durkan said if the consultation was reap any fruits it would require public engagement.

“This consultation comes after the hard fought campaign for equal access to cancer drugs for patients here in the North. It is only fair that cancer patients in Northern Ireland should have access to the same drugs as those in England, Scotland and Wales.

“While I welcome the Health Minister’s support for moving to a more equal footing, I still have real reservations about the consultation. At the event members of the public, stretching beyond access to cancer drugs but specialist medicines expressed the difficulties facing them even making an application via their clinician for the specialist medicine. This is something I have seen in my own constituency office when patients have had to fund their own medicines after being told their clinician won’t be making an Individual Funding Request,” he said.

Mr. Durkan added: “I do recognize the serious pressures facing the Health Service however, sick people cannot be expect to be funding their own medicines or be told they simply just cannot access life prolonging drugs because of where they live.

“There are some real positive suggestions within the new proposals and the direction of travel is definitely more patient centered. However, there is much detail not yet offered and as we all know the devil is often in the detail. SDLP will be formally responding to the consultation as well as attending the public meetings. I would urge all members of the public who are affected or who have family members suffering from cancer or illnesses such as MS that have specialised medicines not funded by NICE, to respond to the consultation. We all want our family members and friends unfortunate enough to be suffering from a debilitating illness to have access to these specialist drugs that will prolong and improve their quality of life.

“Whether you are a patient, carer, member of Health and Social Care staff or just interested in our Health Services then this is an opportunity to have your opinions considered.”

You can respond to the consultation here