The NHS Postcode Lottery - What Treatment Could You Be Being Denied?

NHS postcode lottery
NHS postcode lottery
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

It's hit the headlines recently that a miraculous new drug for breast cancer is being rolled out by the NHS in Scotland - but won't make it over to treat breast cancer patients in England.

The £90,000 drug Kadcyla, which is said to be able to extend life expectancy by nine months, has been deemed too expensive for use in England. This means that some sufferers of breast cancer could be denied treatment that could well help them to prolong their lives.

And sadly, this is an all-too real issue - due to the postcode lottery that could be said to occur within the NHS.

Figures released by NHS England themselves back in 2016 show that certain parts of the NHS in England flourish, while some consistently seem to come up short.

According to The Guardian, "More than half (57%) of local health bodies in England are not performing well enough on dementia, 71% are classed as "needs improvement" for diabetes care and 92% need to improve care for people with learning disabilities, the figures show."

And, a report from the National Audit Office in 2016 found that there were huge variations in care from the NHS, in terms of being able to access treatment, quality of care and even the price the NHS pays for each patient in different areas of the UK. It's unclear why certain areas receive more funding.

So where has the better care? Well, according to figures from the NHS reported by The Telegraph, there are some parts of the country where elderly people are less likely to need to be admitted to hospital - and equally, some parts where their chances are far greater, unfortunately.

According to the figures from Public Health England, people over 75 living in Canterbury were the most likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency, with 11,000 cases per 100,000 of the population.

And those who are the least? Apparently, over 75's who live in North East Lincolnshire were nine times less likely to need an NHS stay.

Similarly, where you live could even affect how quickly you're diagnosed with cancer - and as such how much better your chances are of survival. Apparently, in Slough, just 18% of patients are diagnosed when their cancer is in the early stages, 1 and 2 - when it's most likely to be treated successfully.

But in West Suffolk, a much larger 60% of patients are diagnosed earlier, giving them a far better chance of coming through treatment successfully.

You can view care figures on the NHS Atlas website. Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, at the time said to The Telegraph, "The first step in tackling unfair variation in health services is to identify where the problems are. This Atlas is a key tool in enabling us all to do this."

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on