Behind the Headlines: Tories' Cancer Drugs Fund Exposed as Rip-Off

Today’s headline is that the Cancer Drugs Fund, which was announced by the Tories in 2010 and ran until 2016, was a ‘huge waste of money’. The Annals of Oncology journal has published a study led by Professor Richard Sullivan of King’s College London, who also described the Fund as a ‘major policy error’.

The Conservatives thought they could pick up a few votes in 2010 by promising to fund expensive cancer drugs that the NHS was not funding, and the CDF was the result. It funded cancer patients to receive medications which had not yet been approved by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Launched in 2011 with a budget of £200 million, the Fund was supposed to be a stopgap while alternatives were developed, and was initially scheduled to run until 2014. However, the government did not pursue its alternative policy, the ominous-sounding Value-Based Pricing, and instead extended the CDF until 2016, by which time it had been denounced by the Cancer Taskforce and the National Audit Office as unsustainable, and some doctors - including Richard Sullivan - were calling it an ‘unethical fix’ and a ‘waste of public money’. Still the Conservatives promised in their 2015 election manifesto that ‘We will continue to invest in our lifesaving Cancer Drugs Fund’ and issued the poster pictured, only to scrap the CDF a year later, absorbing it into NICE.

Back at Bart's

Today I was back at Bart's for my radiotherapy follow-up appointment, to check how I coped with the treatment and any problems I have had since. The appointment can be summarised thus: Hi. How are you? Show us your boob. Oh, that looks great. See you in December. Bye. (I may have had encounters like this in the past, although not with doctors.)

Please do not infer from this summary any dismissiveness or rush on the part of the doc. Rather, feel free to infer the splendid news that I am heading at a rapid rate towards the light at the end of cancer's tunnel. The marvellous oncologist Doctor Wolstenholme checked me over, reassured me that everything was healing just as it should and that the oedema is on its way out. She was mightily impressed with my tales of my randomly-leaking nipple and squirting antics. I have the feeling that oedema does not usually happen this way. Once again, my breasts function in a very different dimension to the average mammary.

Mind the Gap: Cancer and Class

... or 'The Lumpen Proletariat' ...

Over recent decades, UK cancer death rates have fallen significantly. They began falling in the late 1980s, and by 2006 had fallen by 17%. More people than ever before are surviving cancer, with 78% of women in England and Wales still alive ten years after their breast cancer diagnosis (2010-11).

But there are still big differences between cancer outcomes depending on how wealthy you are. Economic inequality - the polite term for 'class divisions' - is linked to 19,000 cancer deaths per year.

Overdoing It?

Since resuming my membership of the sports centre five days ago, I have visited every day - and no, not just to check the timetable or use the vending machine. 

Two days ago, I reached untold heights of pleasure by swimming for the first time since before my breast ceased to be watertight and fully encased in skin and began its six months of being pierced, sliced, stitched, infected, creamed, irradiated, peeled and cooked. The wounds are still sore but they have sealed themselves up, so there is no risk of swimming pool water and/or germs getting in through fissures in my skin, nor of bits of my boob leaking out into a communal, municipal facility. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - it is!

Poetry at Liver Bards

04/07/2017 - 19:30

Janine will pop up for a short slot at this Liverpool open-mic night.

Venue: Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery, downstairs, behind the curtain of the Rum and Rumour basement drinking den and kabaret bar. 
 

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