Labour must make the case for patient involvement

February 13, 2013 11:58 am

Since the formation of the Coalition Government no topic has generated as much heated debate as health and the NHS. Understandably, the vast majority of this debate has focused around the Health and Social Care Bill. However other fundamental changes have received much less attention – far fewer people are aware that from 2014 all new branded drugs will be subject to a revised process of drug pricing known as value-based pricing (VBP).

This change represents an opportunity to move away from an unwieldy system that delays access to life-extending drugs, results in inequalities in access to new medicines and relies on temporary measures such as the Cancer Drug Fund in England. Worryingly this is an opportunity that is in danger of slipping away.

Under the new system prices will be set based on the perceived value of a drug rather than its cost alone. Amongst other determinations, this new system includes considerations of the ‘wider societal benefits’ that any new drug would provide. To date, much of the debate around these ‘wider societal benefits’ has focused on the importance of helping people get back to work. This is an important issue, but one that is not relevant to everyone.   In particular, it may disadvantage those who are already retired, unable to re-enter the workforce due to ill health or are children or young adults who are still in education or training.

Although value-based pricing is scheduled to be introduced in 2014, not enough has been done to consult the most important group of all: patients. Availability of new drugs is always a highly emotive issue – despite this, little information has been made available about how VBP will work in practice. This lack of openness has prevented meaningful engagement with patients and patient organisations.

Having identified this gap, Prostate Cancer UK has commissioned a report outlining the views of people affected by cancer on these important changes. This report Value-based pricing: Getting it right for people with cancer, published in partnership with fourteen other leading cancer charities, shows that people affected by cancer want to have an equal role with the pharmaceutical industry and the Government in the design of the VBP system.

Patient groups have the experience, the knowledge and above all, the desire to help develop a better system. Clearly, a new process is needed to ensure that the views of people affected by these changes can be considered in a meaningful way alongside evidence on the clinical and cost effectiveness of drugs. Prostate Cancer UK are keen to work with politicians from all parties to get the best possible system for patients and are interested in hearing from anyone who wants to take action on this issue.

There are clear opportunities to champion the rights of patients, making the case that those most affected by VBP are at the heart of the system. As the Francis report made clear, the time for greater involvement of patients and patient groups in decision making has arrived, the case must be made before the chance for meaningful reform is wasted.

Dr Sarah Cant is Director of Policy and Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK

Latest

  • News Austin Mitchell rubbishes claims that Labour MPs could join UKIP

    Austin Mitchell rubbishes claims that Labour MPs could join UKIP

    The idea that any Labour MPs could follow Douglas Carswell’s lead by joining UKIP is merely “wishful thinking” on their part, according to a prominent Eurosceptic Labour MP. Yesterday, Nigel Farage claimed that he has “spoken to many” Labour MPs this year who “support everything UKIP is trying to do”, while a UKIP source today told the BBC that as many as ten “deeply unhappy” Labour MPs who are “fed up with being patronised by the Labour glitterati” and would […]

    Read more →
  • Featured David Cameron only has himself to blame for his problems with UKIP

    David Cameron only has himself to blame for his problems with UKIP

    This week’s defection by Douglas Carswell to UKIP was a hammer blow for the Prime Minister’s authority.  David Cameron and the Tories are running scared of UKIP and are more divided than ever before. With Stuart Wheeler, the former Tory donor and now UKIP treasurer, declaring that at least two more MPs are “seriously considering” defecting, we know that the introspection and turmoil is set to continue. As the Tories’ identity crisis deepens, it becomes clearer and clearer that they cannot provide […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Rather than focusing on free schools, Labour should consider supporting home education

    Rather than focusing on free schools, Labour should consider supporting home education

    The Labour Party, since at least 2010 have gradually begun to present a coherent, cohesive education programme, to present to the electorate in time for the General Election in 2015. We’ve rightly focused on Michael Gove’s profligate waste of money on free schools. We’ve rightly focused on the Liberal Democrats’ breaking their pledge to vote against raising tuition fees. We’ve rightly focused on the other 50% of people who decide to not go to University and we’re now right to […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Attracting the anti-UKIP vote – why Clacton matters for Labour

    Attracting the anti-UKIP vote – why Clacton matters for Labour

    Make yourself a cuppa, pull up a comfy chair, and watch. Since Douglas Carswell’s surprise/no-surprise defection to UKIP yesterday and the forcing of a by-election in Clacton, there will be some in the party tempted to adopt this attitude. And not without good reason. Consider the previous by-election outings over the last year or so. In Eastleigh, a Liberal Democrat/Tory marginal, from nowhere, became a LD/UKIP marginal. The Conservatives were dumped into third place and our vote stagnated at just […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Deprived families being left behind by Boris Johnson’s transport cuts

    Deprived families being left behind by Boris Johnson’s transport cuts

    Throughout his time at City Hall Boris Johnson has expended a vast amount of hot air trying to claim he represents all of London, for many people though this just doesn’t ring true. That’s why it will come as no surprise that a new report I have published today has found that Londoners in deprived areas face disproportionately poor access to the capital’s transport system, and with population growth the gap is worsening. The report, ‘Tackling Poverty: One Bus Ride Away’, […]

    Read more →