End 'glaring inequality' in cancer drugs access

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has called on the Health Minister to end the 'glaring inequality' in cancer treatment available to patients in Northern Ireland.

Backing the Cancer Focus NI Equal Access Campaign to make new cancer treatment drugs available in England accessible to patients in the North, Mr Eastwood described the current situation as unacceptable.

He said: “The failure to supply 38 cancer drugs to patients living in Northern Ireland is a glaring inequality that we cannot accept. The fact that these drugs are available in England is deeply unfair.

“Our party has raised this issue consistently in the Assembly and the House of Commons. We will continue to raise this issue until we see equal access to treatment for cancer patients across these Islands.

“The SDLP has spoken to patients and clinicians alike. Often doctors are recommending treatment paths for cancer patients here while they are aware that better, more effective and life lengthening treatments exist across the water.

“Patients and Clinicians can no longer be put in such an invidious position. It is time for the Minister for Health to rectify this gross inequality as a matter of urgency,” he added.

Since June, the Equal Access Campaign has generated almost 24,000 pledges of support from members of the public, through an online petition and by a postcard campaign.