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Survey reveals delays in accessing drugs for blood cancers

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“Post-code inequalities” in access to treatments for blood and lymphatic cancers are decreasing but delays mean drugs still come too late for some patients, the charity Leukaemia Care has said.

A survey of all primary care trusts in England and the 33 local health boards in Wales found that a third were not following procedures to give patients access to treatments that are available but not yet approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

However 75 per cent said they had made policy changes to bring them in line with national prescribing guidelines and the charity said this suggested “post-code inequalities” were being replaced with evidence-based guidelines.

But less than half of PCTs and health boards said they made funding available for treatments as soon as guidance was issued. By the end of the 90 days allowed in the guidance, just three quarters said they made funding available.

The charity’s director of cancer campaigning and advocacy Tony Gavin said: “Some cost effective treatments are not always being made available to patients and that confusion over the stages at which treatments can be made available is delaying vital treatment by as much as 90 days – days that some patients just don’t have.”

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