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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, NORTHERN IRELAND ANNOUNCES EASIER ACCESS TO TREATMENT FOR CANCER PATIENTS

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, NORTHERN IRELAND ANNOUNCES EASIER ACCESS TO TREATMENT FOR CANCER PATIENTS

11-Oct-2018

Department of Health, Northern Ireland issued a press release outlining plans for 'Improved Access to New Drugs' to cancer patients in Northern Ireland and announced plans to introduce changes to ensure that all patients have the same access to cancer drugs and treatment options as the rest of the UK.

On 12th September 2018, BBC News reported that cancer patients in Northern Ireland will be given the same access to treatments as patients in other parts of the UK (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-45491502).

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has issued a press release, which provides more information on this announcement.

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/department-announces-improved-access-new-drugs

"Specific points of interest for our community, following our conversations at the last quarterly meeting, drugs approved by NICE for use through the Cancer Drug Fund in England will now be considered in line with existing arrangements for NI endorsement of NICE recommendations: therefore, they will now be made available in the same way as those drugs which have been recommended by NICE as suitable for routine commissioning.

‘The announcement is very clear that this does not amount to a CDF for Northern Ireland, but rather 

it involves changes to the ‘Individual Funding Request’ process that are intended toensure that patients here have the same level of access to new cancer treatments, and treatments for other conditions that are provided elsewhere in theUKthrough “various funding mechanisms”.

While this is clearly a positive step, the announcement does not contain additional detail on which treatments or other funding mechanisms are covered, so it is not clear if it would apply to treatments funded through the prioritisation process, for example.

We willthereforekeep an eye out for further information and keep members updated. We will also follow up with the Northern Irish Department of Health.

The press release also details the following, which may also be of interest:

  • As part of the new package of measures, decisions on IFRs will be taken by a clinically led ‘Regional Scrutiny Committee’, fulfilling a Ministerial Commitment to place clinical expertise at the heart of the decision-making process
  • The IFR process will cover licensed medicines that NICE has not recommended or has not yet appraised
  • Overall, these changes will “increase access to promising new treatments, improve the overall consistency of the IFR process, include a greater level of clinical input, and increase emphasis on the clinical benefit to the patient”
  • The changes are to be implemented in this financial yearas a priority
  • The changes have been made aspart of a lengthyreview of the IFR system,which first began in 2015"

Information provided by the SHCA