North West Wales

Bangor cancer drug patient's England move

Irfon a'i deulu
Image caption Irfon with wife Becky and children Lois, Owen, Beca, Sion and Ianto

A cancer patient has described his fight for a potential life-extending drug as "degrading" as he moves to England to get treatment.

Irfon Williams, 44, has bowel cancer and experts say he may benefit from the drug Cetuximab.

A bid to get the treatment funded in north Wales was rejected.

A Betsi Cadwaladr health board spokesman said that individual cases are not commented on but decisions of this kind are "highly sensitive".

Cetuximab is not routinely available on the NHS in Wales so instead, Mr Williams, from Bangor, will get the drug by living with relatives in north west England.

Image copyright Arall
Image caption Irfon Williams has been receiving treament for cancer for a year

The treatment, recommended by three clinical experts treating him, will be paid for through the Cancer Drugs Fund - which does not exist in Wales.

It has led to Mr Williams launching his own campaign to highlight the issue in Wales, with questions put to the first minister in the Senedd last week.

A campaign on Facebook has attracted more than 20,000 followers, with thousands of people also signing a petition calling on Betsi Cadwaladr health board to reverse its decision on funding.

Mr Williams, a manager within the north Wales health service, told BBC News that the drug treatment offered him hope.

"If there is a licensed drug that has been demonstrated to have worked in some cases, then I think people should have a right to live, and the right for a chance to live," he said.

"We have hope, and if you have hope, you have everything - you cling on to it."

His battle against cancer is already well known in north Wales, where he has raised more than £65,000 to improve patients' experience on the wards through the charity, Blue Sky.

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Media captionIrfon Williams will receive the drug he needs in England

A spokesman for the Betsi Cadwaladr health board said it "must ensure that the drugs, treatments and resources are used where they are the most effective, not only to the individual but to the patient population as a whole".

On the issue of a cancer drugs fund, a Welsh government spokesman said there are no plans to introduce a similar scheme: "In Wales, we have a system in place which ensures all patients get access to proven and effective treatments for all conditions - not just cancer.

"The cancer drugs fund undermines the established system for the assessment of medicines for use in the NHS. It has spent millions of pounds on non-approved medicines that deliver little or no benefit for patients.

"NHS England recently announced cuts to the cancer drugs fund, which shows the policy is unravelling."

Image caption Last week a public meeting was held in Bangor to discuss a "Right To Live" campaign

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