HCP questions Drugs Fund spending


A leading healthcare professional has criticised how the Government’s £200 million Cancer Drugs Fund is being spent.

Audrey Paterson, Director of Professional Policy at the Society and College of Radiographers, says that more money should be spent on improving radiotherapy than on chemotherapy drugs.

She said that if just “a fraction” of the £200 million fund was allocated to the development of radiotherapy “the impact would be immense”.

Professor Paterson was speaking after the NHS report, Radiotherapy Dataset Annual Report 2009/2010, found a poorer uptake of the treatment among cancer patients located in parts of the Midlands and the north.

Previous surveys have revealed that a number of cancer patients would chose chemotherapy drugs over radiotherapy due to fears of the nature of the treatment.

But radiographers have pointed towards new techniques which mean the therapy is safer and more effective than ever before.

Members of the Society and College of Radiographers believe the treatment has been overlooked in favour of chemotherapy, which may only prolong life by a matter of months but has received a higher amount of press and political attention.

“The Government must ensure that radiotherapy, which cures more people than chemotherapy, receives sufficient funding so that we can close the north-south divide which currently exists,” said Professor Paterson.

By investing £40 million in new equipment the Professor says it would make “a sizeable dent” in reducing the amount of deaths each year and “give people better quality of life”.

“What I would not want to do is set up a competition between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, because both have their place,” she added.

“I think there are strong arguments for saying that amount of money could be better spent elsewhere in terms of the long term fight against cancer.”

Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, said that radiotherapy is one of the “key treatments” for cancer and that uptake will “undoubtedly contribute to saving lives”.

“Our cancer strategy sets out how we plan to improve cancer outcomes and save an extra 5,000 lives every year by 2014/15. It is backed by more than £750million of funding over four years, which includes additional funding for radiotherapy.”