Nearly 200 patients left to die as the Government’s £22million cancer fund goes unspent
Nearly 200 patients dying from cancer have been denied life-extending drugs because they live in the wrong areas, a new report has revealed. They were turned down by the Government’s much-heralded Cancer Drugs Fund, even though almost half of the £50million pot was untouched.
The Rarer Cancer Foundation warns that the fund, set up last year to provide better drugs for the terminally ill, is simply another postcode lottery. In some parts of the country a quarter of sufferers applying for life-extending treatments were rejected, while in other areas every applicant was successful.
The fund finances treatment banned by NICE, the NHS rationing body, if doctors believe it will benefit a patient. Initially, £50million was made available from last October until April, divided up between the ten regional Strategic Health Authorities in England. But the RCF has found that £22million was never spent. Yet across England 187 patients were refused funding, with some regions less likely to hand out the money than others.
In NHS South Central, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, a quarter of the 408 applicants were rejected. But after six months the trust still had £1.7million left – nearly half of what was allocated.
In NHS North East, covering the Durham, Newcastle and Middlesbrough area, all 205 patients who applied were given funding. Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the RCF, said: ‘We are concerned that nearly 200 patients have been denied life-extending treatment, despite money going unspent. ‘It is unacceptable that there is a north-south divide in the Cancer Drugs Fund, with one in four patients not having funding approved in NHS South Central when every request is being approved in NHS North East. ‘The NHS needs to act now to eliminate these inequalities.’
From April, the Government set aside a further £200million for the fund for the next year.
But this report, based on Freedom of Information requests to health trusts, shows the fund is not operating as effectively as hoped.
Sorry, you have to be addicted to drugs! British Boy Scouts told they’re too well behaved to get council funds to repair their hut
For more than 100 years, the Scout movement has been supporting the community, helping young people realise their potential. So when one group in a deprived area applied for funding to help renovate a dilapidated hut which is almost as old as Lord Baden-Powell’s initiative, they thought they were in with a strong chance.
To their dismay, they were told they were not eligible for the cash – because their work does not involve drug rehabilitation for addicts or services to help young offenders.
Now the 1st Knowsley Sea Scouts face having to find the £250,000 renovation funds on their own. Around 70 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts use the group’s hut in Knowsley, Merseyside.
Last night, group leader Paul Lewis condemned the decision by Knowsley Council, saying drug addicts and criminals were being put before decent, law-abiding children.
Mr Lewis, 37, works with a Beavers group for children aged between five and a half and eight. He said: ‘It’s infuriating that the good kids who keep their noses clean are ignored and don’t get any financial support. ‘So much cash is made available for young offenders after they have committed crimes. ‘They will throw any amount of money at them.’
Mr Lewis, of Kirkby, Merseyside, added: ‘I’ve applied to the council but they have simply no money left – the chest is closed. ‘Other charity groups have really tightened their belts and are not giving out money.’
The run-down 1920s Scout hut stands in one of the most deprived areas of the country. It is rotting and has no heating, according to Mr Lewis. Volunteers had hoped that local and national funding bodies could be relied upon to help.
But father of three Mr Lewis, a taxi driver, has been told his project simply doesn‘t meet public funding criteria. He said: ‘I just don’t understand why there isn’t any money for kids to keep them out of trouble in the first place.’
No-one was available for comment at Knowsley Council last night.
British school to ban parents from sports day for first time in 130 years amid fears of children ‘mixing with strangers’
It is often one of the proudest moments for any parent to see their child compete, but Upwell Community Primary School in Norfolk is considering holding the event behind closed doors because of a safety row.
Many parents have been left furious at the decision and say they may keep their children off school on that day in protest. It would be the first time in the 130-year-old school’s history that it has barred mothers and fathers from its sports day.
The row stems from a small group of parents who boycotted a children’s art event at the school that members of the public could also attend. A number of parents did not send their children to school on that day and headteacher James McBurney is concerned the same thing would happen on its sports day.
‘It is with the greatest and sincerest regret that all staff have decided, in light of recent events, that sports day is likely to take place without parents being invited,’ he wrote in a school newsletter. ‘We understand that we have many supportive parents and we would like to offer our heartfelt apologies for this decision. ‘We have deliberated over this at great length but feel that many day-to-day routines have been misinterpreted or misunderstood.
‘The present climate is affecting the well-being of all children and staff morale. ‘However, we are prepared to postpone sports day until June 29 and decide nearer to the time whether parents will be invited.’
One unhappy parent who received the newsletter from the school said she did not know why Mr McBurney had made this decision, saying ‘It is just going to upset parents even more.’ She added if the ban on parents attending was upheld, several would not send their children to school on that day as a ‘protest’.
But the head believes the move could be for the best. He said: ‘We have the highest regard for the safety and well-being of all of our children and staff and want to ensure sports day is the best day possible for children and their parents and carers.
‘However, we have concerns that some parents may not be supportive on the day and we have therefore decided to postpone the event while we seek assurances from parents. This was not an easy decision but was one taken by all of the school’s staff.
‘There will also be visitors on site during sports day and we therefore need to make sure that everyone is satisfied with how the day is run so that attendance levels can be maintained and the day is able to run as smoothly as possible.’
“Good” food improves exam results?
That the definition of “healthy” food was eccentic below (are “local” foods really better for you?) suggests that we are just seeing a “Hawthorne” effect here — or, more generally, a placebo effect. It’s the attention and enthusiasm that has an effect, not the food. No double blind controls, it would seem.
Obese children eating unhealthy food are more likely to have poor exam results, an experiment has revealed. Researchers found that school children eating good food at lunchtime are four times more likely to concentrate in the afternoon.
This led to pupils’ exam marks showing a massive improvement with inspection rates by education watchdog Ofsted soaring.
Nearly 4,000 schools took part in the Food For Life Partnership (FFLP). The research, which was carried out by a team from the University of the West of England, also revealed that pupils’ interest in healthy foods had an effect on their eating habits at home and their parents’ shopping habits.
It found that serving fresh food instead of harmful fats found in biscuits, burgers and cakes had a quick effect on pupils’ academic achievement and behaviour. Emma Noble, director of FFLP, said: ‘This is carrying on the healthy eating project in schools started by Jamie Oliver but this is a longer term project looking at what young people eat in and out of school. ‘Very quickly they found that serving a child good food at lunchtime makes them four times more likely to concentrate in the afternoon,’ according to the Sunday Express.
Many of the schools involved in the project set up their own gardens. And it was discovered that children would enjoy eating vegetables they had grown themselves – despite normally turning their noses up at them.
Ian Nurser, headteacher of St Peter’s Church of England School in Wem, Shropshire, said results at his school had been boosted since the schoolchildren started eating healthier meals each day. ‘They are very proud of knowing what they should be eating and take a great interest in putting together a healthy meal each day. ‘They all learn about links to local produce and really think about things. Our results have steadily improved since we started this project.
‘What pupils are learning in the garden and how to cook to a high level are life skills not available to most young people, with 12 per cent of value added in terms of boosted results.’
Libby Grundy, FFLP director, said that despite being pleased with the results of the experiment, she was concerned that cuts to local authority school meal budgets could see more unhealthy ready meals in schools. She said: ‘With one in 10 children classed as obese just as the programme looks as if it has reached the tipping point, cuts to school meal budgets could undo all the good work.’
‘A significant step forward’ in the fight against Alzheimer’s: Mad cow disease drug found to block onset of dementia
A drug used to fight mad cow disease could offer hope of a significant breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Two of the antibodies in medication for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease block the onset of the most common cause of dementia, scientists have discovered. The unexpected findings came as they were developing treatments for CJD.
In a ‘significant step forward’ in the battle against Alzheimer’s, it was found that the antibodies prevent a rogue protein called amyloid beta from gathering in the brain and damaging nerve cells.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, revealed that antibodies ICS-18 and ICSM-35 help to preserve brain function and prevent memory loss, the symptom which most characterises the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s.
Lead researcher Professor John Collinge, from University College London, said: ‘We’re thrilled that this discovery shows in mice that these two antibodies which we are developing to treat CJD may also have a role in treating more common forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease.
‘If these antibody drugs prove to be safe in use to treat CJD we will consider whether studies in Alzheimer’s disease should be carried out.’
Professor Dominic Walsh, a co-author of the study from University College Dublin, said: ‘A unique aspect of this study is that we used amyloid beta extracted from human brain, the same material we believe is causing memory loss in patients with this devastating disease and we identified two antibodies that could block this effect.
‘The use of these specific antibodies is particularly exciting since they have already undergone extensive pre-clinical testing for use in treating CJD. ‘Thus a lot of basic work has already been done and could fast-track these antibodies for use in humans. The next step is further validation in other disease models of Alzheimer’s and then safety trials in humans.’
Trials of drugs developed from these studies start on patients with CJD next year but could now be fast-tracked for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Meanwhile, a brain scan that can detect Alzheimer’s years in advance could be available within 12 months. PET scans that show the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease by detecting beta amyloid should be widely available by next year, scientists announced yesterday.