English Leukaemia sufferers denied drugs available in Scotland
Leukaemia sufferers in England have been denied drugs that are available on the NHS in Scotland. The treatment rationing body, Nice, has ruled that three types of medication, which can give a normal life expectancy to patients with the rare blood cancer, are not effective enough considering they cost up to £40,000 a year.
But campaigners say the decision is unfair to about 1,000 people in England and Wales who do not respond to the standard treatment for the disease, called imatinib.
They point out that the drugs are available on the NHS in Scotland and are also available in 29 European countries along with America, Canada and Australia for those who have chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).
It comes amid growing evidence that NHS managers are restricting access to drugs in an attempt to cut costs, and will further increase the pressure on the Government’s new £200million Cancer Drugs Fund to provide hope to those denied treatment for less common diseases.
Prof John Goldman, Emeritus Professor of Haematology at Imperial College, London, said: “This decision will have an adverse impact on people with CML and could create a two-tier system where patients who fail imatinib after the Nice decision may have limited effective treatment options, compared with those treated before the decision.
“This may put clinicians in England and Wales in a very difficult position, and clearly puts us behind Scotland and the majority of the western world where these treatments are reimbursed.”
Sandy Craine, co-founder of the CML Support patient group, added: “We find the draft recommendation very disappointing. This is a serious life-threatening disease that has the potential to be turned into a much more manageable condition for many patients.
“As we enter the era of genomics and move towards personalised medicine, we urge Nice to reconsider its negative recommendation and follow other EU nations, including Scotland, in offering people in England and Wales the very best of innovative cancer therapies.”
It is thought that 2,660 people in England and Wales have CML, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow in which the body produces abnormal white blood cells.
But an estimated 40 per cent – some 1,064 people – do not respond to the recommended treatment, imatinib.
Drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been available for the past five years to treat patients who do not improve after taking the standard medication.
In draft guidance published on Friday, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said it could not recommend three TKIs – dasatinib, high-dose imatinib and nilotinib – as a secondary treatment.
It said that two of them cost £30,000 a year while the price of high-dose imatinib has now gone up to £40,000 per patient per year, and pointed out that as sufferers of a chronic condition, patients would need to take the drugs for as long as 10 years.
Despite the high cost, Nice claimed there was little clinical evidence that the alternative drugs were effective at improving patients’ conditions.
Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of Nice, said: “The evidence for the effectiveness of dasatinib, high-dose imatinib and nilotinib is very weak.
“When we recommend the use of very expensive treatments, we need to be confident that they bring sufficient additional benefit to justify their cost.”
Last month Nice refused to recommend a drug that could extend the lives of kidney cancer patients, even after the manufacturer offered to sell it to the NHS at a discount.
The only hope for those denied help by NHS managers is to ask their GP to apply to the Cancer Drugs Fund, which can fund treatment not recommended for widespread use by Nice.
Insane British school
Fired for ‘abuse’, teacher who carried naughty boy of six in from playground
A respected deputy head was sacked after she helped carry a boy of six into school when he refused to leave the playground. Debbie Ellis, who had an unblemished 20-year career, was accused of ‘physical and emotional abuse’ after she and a teaching assistant lifted the boy by his armpits – even though his mother didn’t complain.
Mrs Ellis had taken action because a sex offender had recently been spotted at the school gates.
Yesterday her solicitor described her dismissal as ‘incomprehensible’ and vowed to clear her name.
Mrs Ellis, a policeman’s wife, had been in charge of Hafod-y-Wern primary school in Wrexham, North Wales for the day last June because the head was away. When the boy refused to come inside after playtime, staff phoned his mother, but she wasn’t able to come to the school straight away.
So Mrs Ellis and a teaching assistant went outside, lifted the boy under his armpits and carried him indoors. Mrs Ellis told the head on his return and school governors launched an investigation, which lasted nearly a year.
Police were informed at the time, but there were no grounds on which to prosecute. Now, however, Mrs Ellis has been sacked for ‘gross misconduct by physical and emotional abuse’. She is taking her case to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.
Yesterday her solicitor, Tudor Williams, said Mrs Ellis felt ‘a deep sense of grievance’. ‘What’s happened is incomprehensible,’ he said. ‘For acting in the best interests of the child she gets the sack. It’s totally unfair and over the top. ‘She’s had a 20-year teaching career without a stain on her character, ten years at this school.’
Mr Williams said Mrs Ellis had been sacked despite CCTV footage of the incident showing she hadn’t used excessive force. ‘My client used the minimum of physical restraint to lift him up and carry him to the classroom,’ he said. ‘His mother came to the school and saw him, and made no complaint.’
Mrs Ellis was finally dismissed in February after a two-day disciplinary hearing at which she was represented by the National Union of Teachers. Another teacher at the school was sacked and two teaching assistants were disciplined, but yesterday the school’s governing body declined to give more details.
Mr Williams said: ‘It seems some governors have lost sight of the reality of the situation.’ The playground of the school, which is on a housing estate, is sometimes used as a short cut. Mr Williams said that two weeks earlier, a man had been spotted performing a sex act outside the school gates. ‘Any teacher would be concerned about a pupil being outside in the playground on his own,’ he added. ‘Anything could have happened.
‘Just imagine if he had been allowed to stay there and wandered off on to the main road, or a stranger came in and abused or abducted him. ‘All these things weighed on my client’s mind.’
An NUT spokesman said Mrs Ellis’s dismissal was ‘perverse’ given that she had been acting to keep a child safe.
Mrs Ellis is claiming unfair dismissal and breach of her human rights by allegedly not having a fair hearing.
Invaded by gypsies, ignored by the police. Now this British farmer is facing a £20,000 fine
They arrived on his picturesque farm three years ago in a threatening convoy of caravans and lorries. And they have remained there illegally ever since. Desperate for help, Gerald Cleave turned to police – only to be warned, with frustrating inevitability, that he could be arrested if he tried to force them out himself.
Now officials have finally taken action. But, astonishingly, that action is to tell Mr Cleave that if the travellers do not move on, it is he who will face prosecution. The 68-year-old has been informed he faced fines of up to £20,000 if the 50-strong community remains there today.
He was handed an enforcement notice by the Dartmoor National Park Authority threatening prosecution unless the camp was cleared by midnight last night.
The farmer said the brazen travellers have turned his agricultural land into an eyesore and have even arranged for their post – including insurance documents and catalogue orders – to be delivered to his farmhouse.
Yesterday he recalled how he pleaded with the group to leave the one-acre site at Middle Stidson Farm in South Brent, Devon, when they first arrived.
Mr Cleave was shocked when the National Park Authority, which is responsible for planning issues in the area, told him it had no legal powers to evict. He said police then warned him he could be arrested for assault or criminal damage if he intervened directly.
After the travellers arrived in May 2008, an application to turn the camp into a permanent site was refused. The group was served with an enforcement notice in August last year giving them nine months to leave.
But Mr Cleave was furious when a similar notice was sent to him. He said: ‘It’s ridiculous to think I could be left with a huge fine from all this. I don’t see why I should have to spend thousands getting rid of them. I’d rather go to prison than pay a penny. I have been given notice from Dartmoor National Park Authority that they must leave but they haven’t given me any help.’
He described the past three years as a ‘living hell’ and claimed his ‘hands were bound’. “I’ve owned this land my whole life. It was inherited from my father and I have had to watch as it has been turned into a mess,’ he said. ‘I’m desperate to get them out so I can get my land back and use it for agricultural land again. As it stands, there are at least 40 vehicles on the land, which is now a sprawling mess with horses and dogs running about.
‘I’m at a complete loss as to what to do. I’ve tried everything legally within my powers. ‘I could forcibly remove them but might face prosecution. I’ve asked them to leave and they won’t listen to reason, what more can I do? It’s the law of the land and the reason why this country has gone to pot.’
Dartmoor National Park Authority confirmed it had served an enforcement notice to the landowner ruling the travellers must leave. Stephen Belli, director of planning, said if the group hadn’t moved on, the authority had five options, one of which was prosecuting the owner. Others included prosecuting the occupiers or imposing a court injunction to imprison those still there.
He said: ‘I sympathise with the owner as obviously he didn’t invite them there, but that is an option available to all planning authorities throughout the country.’
The travellers had yesterday put up metal panelling and fencing around the site and posted a notice on the gate which read: ‘We live in this property. It is our home and we intend to stay here.’
They later held a huge party with loud music and drinking.
One woman said: ‘We won’t be moving. Where are we supposed to go? We have children enrolled in schools around here, and there is a lady in remission from cancer on the site. Now is not the time to move on.’
Big fines if British public builidngs fail to mark Europe Day
Some flag burners I can understand above. They look pretty happy about it too. Note that they are standing opposite the Palace of Westminster (The British Houses of Parliament)
“Eurocrats last night faced an angry revolt over attempts to force Britain to celebrate the EU’s Europe Day next week.
Scores of public buildings around the country are being ordered to fly the blue-and-gold European Union flag to mark the occasion next Monday.
Officials will be expected to ensure the flag remains hoisted for a week, with a swingeing fine from Brussels threatened for those that disobey.
Astonishingly, they even have to take a photograph of the flag flying and email it to the European Commission to ensure the regulations are being observed.
Last night Tory Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles savaged Brussels bureaucrats for ordering his Whitehall office to fly the EU flag.