According to researchers, the Cancer Drugs Fund run by the Conservative party from 2010 – 2016 was a “huge waste of money”, and may have even caused unnecessary suffering to patients.
The fund was set up in 2010 by the party, after they promised to pay for cancer drugs that the NHS was not funding. The party had promised it during their 2010 election campaign, amid concerns from voters that cancer patients weren’t able to get access to some life-enhancing drugs.
However, researchers at King’s College London, have said that only one in five of the treatments offered were of benefit – even though the Conservatives say that most of them did give patients “precious extra time”.
On the scheme, nearly 100,00 patients received drugs that they believed could help them.
One of the researchers at King’s College, Professor Richard Sullivan, has spoken out against cancer charities, for not calling out the problems with the fund.
The professor from the university also criticised the scheme, saying “Populism doesn’t work when you are dealing with complex areas of policy like this. When it was launched it was not monitored properly. It was politically and intellectually lazy.”
Emlyn Samuel, from Cancer Research UK, also agreed with the researchers that the fund “wasn’t fit for purpose”.
However, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, Baroness Delyth Morgan, spoke out in support of the scheme, saying that it’s given “significant and precious extra time” with their loves ones.
She also said that the scheme was never intended to be long-term, put in place only as a “sticking plaster”, while flaws in the appraisal process for letting drugs into the NHS was fixed.
Speaking to the BBC, one patient, Julie Strelley-Jones, said that the fund has helped her immensely. She has breast cancer which has spread to her brain, and so was given a drug called Kadcyla, to help. She admitted, “I wouldn’t be here without this drug.
“It’s everything to me and my family and my friends, and if you were in my situation I don’t think you can put a value on saving somebody or extending somebody’s life.”