Monday, 18 February 2013

Hospitals in new cancer drugs postcode lottery amid fears some doctors prefer to stick with tried and trusted treatments

  • Forty-fold variation found between hospitals offering most and least drugs
  • Charities warn patients are at the mercy of 'unjustifiable postcode lottery'
  • Big gap may be down to some doctors preferring drugs used for years

  • Hospitals are denying patients the latest cancer drugs, a report reveals today.
    Many are refusing to give patients life-extending new treatments approved by NHS rationing body NICE.

    Research has uncovered a 40-fold variation between hospitals offering the highest numbers of drugs and those providing the least. 

    Charities warn that patients are at the mercy of an ‘unjustifiable postcode lottery’, with their chance dependent on where they live.

    There is also concern that hospitals are deliberately holding back highly effective treatments because they are more expensive than ones they already use.

    The stark variation may also be partly due to doctors in some hospitals preferring to give patients drugs they have used for years, rather than trying new treatments. 

    Research by the Rarer Cancers Foundation analysed NHS figures showing how often hospitals were prescribing new cancer drugs approved by NICE.