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

  • Featured Scotland Johann Lamont resigns as Scottish Labour leader

    Johann Lamont resigns as Scottish Labour leader

    Johann Lamont has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with immediate effect. She told the Scottish Daily Record: “I am proud of what we have achieved over the last three years. We held Alex Salmond to account” But was critical of some Scottish Labour colleagues, saying: “colleagues need to realise that the focus of Scottish politics is now Holyrood, not Westminster.” The BBC also reports Lamont accusing some in the party of trying to run Scotland “like a branch […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour shouldn’t offer cosmetic solutions for our education system

    Labour shouldn’t offer cosmetic solutions for our education system

    Until told otherwise I am going to assume that all teachers have a deep and noble interest in the education of children and young people in Britain. There is, then, no need for them to put their hand on their heart or a bible or a framed photograph of Nicky Morgan and swear an oath to education. I mean how would that go exactly? “I solemnly swear that I absolutely have not fallen into teaching because it’s guaranteed work and […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour MP receives vile anti-semitic messages

    Labour MP receives vile anti-semitic messages

    The Jewish Chronicle have reported that Luciana Berger MP and Louise Ellman MP have been subjected to anti-semitic tweets. Following the conviction of Garron Helm, who sent anti-semitic messages to Berger on Twitter – last night she faced further verbal online abuse. Messages sent to Berger included one that used the ‘jude’ – which in German means Jew. Another read “Only two places for Jews. The desert or in hell with their father the devil. #ExpelLucianaBerger” Berger has not responded to these […]

    Read more →
  • News George Osborne doesn’t accept living standards are falling

    George Osborne doesn’t accept living standards are falling

    Here’s one for the “what was he thinking?” files. George Osborne was interviewed by ITV news about today’s growth figures, yet when Economics Editor Richard Edgar noted that living standards are falling as wages have fallen behind inflation, the Chancellor disagreed with that fact, saying “I don’t accept that.” Here’s Elgar’s tweet: Living standards have fallen since 2010. So why won’t the Chancellor accept that? Is it because it punches a hole in his narrative about the British economy…?

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe Farage has chosen to cosy up with the sort of political party that makes most of us feel sick

    Farage has chosen to cosy up with the sort of political party that makes most of us feel sick

    Why do so many of us go canvassing and door-knocking in the rain? Or give up evenings and weekends for the Labour Party when we could be anywhere else. There’s always a candidate to support or a campaign to be won. But ultimately it’s about more than that – it’s about fighting for our values. We all get into politics to argue for what we think is right and to change our world bit by bit, day by day for […]

    Read more →