Wales politics

Welsh cancer fund would treat patients inequitably, says Jones

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Media captionEngland's cancer drugs fund is now worth £280m a year - but Welsh Labour minister say the scheme is unravelling, as Daniel Davies reports

First Minister Carwyn Jones has rejected calls to set up a Welsh specialist cancer treatment fund, despite Labour plans to establish one in England if it wins power next May.

The fund, for innovative cancer drugs, surgery and radiotherapy, would replace England's Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

Conservatives have said Welsh ministers were "out of excuses" on the issue.

But Mr Jones said he did not want patients treated "inequitably", asking why cancer should be a special case.

Earlier, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said Labour's move at Westminster put huge pressure on ministers in Wales to do likewise.

The fund, for innovative cancer drugs, surgery and radiotherapy, would replace England's Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

Mr Crabb said the CDF had "significantly enhanced the lives of 55,000 cancer sufferers in England".

'Consistency'

During First Minister's Questions, Mr Jones said: "When it comes those people who, unfortunately, are diagnosed with cancer they have a much better chance of treatment and drugs in Wales."

He added: "If we say that cancer should be treated as a special case, what then of people who have had strokes, or heart disease, or multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis?

"Should we then ring fence all the available drugs for them, because those are all conditions where new drugs come onto the market, where they are looked at by NICE, why treat cancer differently to people with other conditions?"

Welsh patients suffering from all illnesses, including cancer, must apply for health board funding for the drugs through the Individual Patient Funding Request (IPFR) system.

Following a consultation on the IPFR system, the Welsh government recently announced changes aimed at making it easier and quicker to prescribe new drugs and ensure more consistency in a system that operates on a regional basis.

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