NHS cutbacks are holding back care, ABPI says

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Stephen Whitehead web The NHS is limiting patient care by reducing access to medicines in order to achieve short-term cost control targets, the ABPI has said.

At its annual conference, the industry association emphasised that France, Spain and Germany spend three times as much per patient on new medicines as the UK.

While it focused on medicines, the ABPI statement echoed comments from the NHS Confederation on the way that ‘salami slicing’ of healthcare is being used as a short-term financial solution.

Both organisations are calling for service redesign to shift healthcare from the hospital to the community, rather than further cutbacks to existing services.

In particular, the ABPI noted, denying patients access to new medicines on grounds of cost is holding back the treatment of long-term conditions within the community, while giving hospitals more work.

Spending on new medicines is set to rise by only 1.3% by 2015 – half the projected increase in total NHS spend, and far below the rate of inflation.

The UK spends 74p per person per day on medicines, compared to over £1 in Spain, Germany and France. It spends only 7p per person per day on new medicines, compared to over 20p per day in those countries.

Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said: “Our healthcare system needs to focus much more on caring for patients in their own homes and much less on treatment in expensive hospitals. Investing in new, innovative medicines will be absolutely key to this.

“By 2015, the new medicines which are being launched now will make up just 2.5% of the entire medicines budget, and yet it is these treatments which are able to transform the way many diseases are treated.”