Cancer sufferer forced to rent second home to get life-saving treatment in postcode lottery
One would think that contrition for their negligence in misdiagnosing her would influence the NHS but there is no contrition in the NHS
A seriously ill cancer patient has been forced to rent a second home so she can receive life-saving treatment because of a postcode lottery in the health service.
Yvonne Briscoe, 57, wanted a drug to reduce her bowel tumour but was refused funding from doctors in her home town in North Wales. She has been forced to take out a six month lease on a flat in Stockport, Greater Manchester, 53 miles from her family home, so she can qualify for the treatment of Cetuximab at specialist cancer hospital, The Christie, in Manchester.
The drug is not approved by NICE – the National Institute for Clinical Excellence – and is not routinely available in Wales.But Cetuximab, which is said to prolong life for cancer sufferers who have tried other drugs that have failed, is more accessible through the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.
Mrs Briscoe, whose main home is in Brynford, North Wales, applied for Cetuximab in Wales but was turned down for the drug on the grounds that her case was not exceptional.
Mrs Briscoe said: ‘If my case is not an exception I don’t know what it is. ‘I think it’s terrible that I have to rent out a property in another country simply so I can get the treatment I so desperately need. ‘Although this treatment is available in England, it is unavailable in Wales.
‘It is all down to cost but how can you put a price on somebody’s life? ‘I was absolutely fuming at the decision to refuse funding – especially because I had been misdiagnosed in the first place.’
The retired council worker was misdiagnosed by her own doctor in 2008, who wrongly said the bowel cancer was irritable bowel syndrome. Tragically, the misdiagnosis resulted in the cancer spreading to her liver and lungs.
Despite the huge blunder, Welsh doctors said Mrs Briscoe is not an ‘exceptional case’ for funding.
Mrs Briscoe had started chemotherapy at the Glan Clwyd Hospital, 25 minutes away from her home to target the cancer, but in October last year doctors told her that the treatment had stopped having an effect. She asked about other treatments, determined to find a drug that would help her.
Mrs Briscoe, who lives with her husband Michael, 61, in their home in Wales, arranged to see a consultant at Christie Hospital. Consultants said she would benefit from Cetuximab and they could treat her there. But as she lived in Wales she wasn’t able to get it.
Mrs Briscoe said: ‘I felt that I had to do something drastic in order to register for the treatment. ‘Renting in Stockport is not ideal but I was left with no choice.’
She has had to register with a doctor in Stockport and is paying £400 per month to rent the flat.
Mrs Briscoe is currently being treated on a weekly basis with the drug mitomycin C which is keeping the cancer stabilised and so is unable to start the Cetuximab until the treatment is finished, which is likely to be in September.
Mrs Briscoe has set up an online petition that she intends to send to the Welsh Assembly Government outlining her case and pushing for a change.
Bosses at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board say Cetuximab is still not recommended by NICE and is not routinely available in Wales as a result. Dr Matthew Makin, chief of staff of the Cancer Clinical Programme Group, said: ‘We can confirm that in this case a request was considered and no clinical exceptionality was determined and thus in accordance with policy, the request was refused. ‘Whilst we have every sympathy with Ms Briscoe, we have followed the process as it stands in Wales at this time.’
The Cancer Drugs Fund was brought in by the Coalition in 2010, providing £200million for people unable to access drugs because of NICE decisions to get them funded.
The news comes shortly after a cancer sufferer launched a scathing attack on David Cameron for NHS failings to fund the cancer treatment she desperately needed.
Britain needs to stop treating views on immigration as an IQ test – there are sensible ways to attract tourists from China
Theresa May has set herself up as a figure of scorn once again, by blocking plans to make it easier for the Chinese to get Visas to Britain over fears about organised crime. The Home Secretary is in conflict with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who wants to treble the number of Chinese tourists to Britain: only 147,000 came here last year, compared to 1.2 million visiting France.
Views on immigration are taken as a sort of de facto IQ test in some circles, or at least a test of emotional intelligence. That’s why Mrs May was scorned over the “cat” issue, even though her critics were happy to ignore the fact that violent criminals were allowed to roam the streets. And when the Government announced plans to restrict family-based immigration, largely from South Asia, they were warned that it would toxify the Tory brand, ruin their chances with minority voters, and damage Britain’s relations with other countries. As it turned out, the Government went ahead with the reforms, Labour supported them, knowing the state of public opinion, and everyone agreed it was quite a reasonable measure.
France can afford to be more relaxed about Chinese tourists, because France makes it easier to deport foreign criminals: the laws toughened up in 2010. In Britain, by contrast, deporting foreign criminals is still a palaver. Magistrates have to deal with serial offenders who are repeatedly allowed to remain in the country. (It’s also easier to work in Britain, both because there are more unskilled jobs suited towards the people-trafficking industry, and because there are fewer checks, there being no identity cards.)
It’s certainly in our interests to encourage Chinese tourists, and co-operation with China generally, although it’s likely that the Chinese will continue to flock to France in large numbers, partly because the Chinese have a great interest in France (they even built a replica Paris). But the Home Secretary’s first job is to protect the home front, and she must balance the interests of the tourism industry with her job of fighting crime (McMafia as the author Misha Glenny calls the new variety of organised crime).
In the immediate future, we could build our relationship with China by ensuring that Mandarin is taught in schools (I’m quite interested in the idea of setting up a bilingual free school in London, with an emphasis on Chinese culture). More broadly, with a more mobile global elite than in previous eras, it’s important for a country to attract the super-rich, which it can do not just through an attractive tax system but also through branding. National branding is more important than ever, which is why it’s a paradox that, while the Olympics were sold on a very modern idea of Britian, what draws people to our country is a certain old-fashioned Britishness described by Harry Mount (Steve Sailer calls this the Harry Potter Effect, and indeed JK Rowling has probably done more to promote “brand Britain” than anyone in history).
In the longer term, we’ll want to attract more Chinese visitors, and will be able to, as Chinese average incomes rise. That’s because the most beneficial type of immigration, from the receiving country’s point of view, is between states of relatively equal economic development. It follows from this that Britain should adopt very strict immigration policies towards the developing world (especially towards family migration, the least progressive form), but have fairly open borders with countries above a median average income of $12,000.
The real question is whether China would reciprocate. So far, none of the countries outside the European world have adopted Western-style immigration policies, nor have any Asian countries embraced the ideology behind “diversity”. So when China reaches the Lewis turning point, will it start importing millions of people from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Africa to do the jobs the Chinese wont do? I would bet my bottom yuan that the answer will be no.
British Tories facing loss of support from millions of churchgoers over gay marriage
The Conservative party risk the support of millions of churchgoers by supporting same-sex marriages, a poll suggests.
David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriages does not sit well with six out of ten regular churchgoers who said they are less likely to vote Conservative in the next election as a result of the Prime Minister’s stance on the matter.
As religious groups estimate that 7.6 million people attend church once a month this could mean a loss of millions of votes.
A poll by ComRes found that 58 per cent of regular service attendees were less likely to vote Conservative after plans of the new policy were made public.
A mere two per cent of those who went to church once a month or more said the introduction of same-sex marriage made it more likely that they would vote Tory with ten per cent saying they would stand by the party regardless.
The Conservatives were not the only political party at loss. Nearly half of those polled said they were deterred from voting Lib Dem and 27 per cent would not vote Labour due to their policies on same-sex marriage.
Last week the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke out in support of religious organisations and churches being allowed to conduct same-sex marriage if they wish to do so.
Research by The Independent showed that a majority of Britons want the government to go ahead with their plans to legalise gay marriage even if research concludes that the general consensus is negative.
A survey asked if gay marriage should be legalised in England and Wales following the Scottish announcement to do so even if most people responding to the UK government’s consultation are opposed to it and 54 per cent agreed.
Only 37 per cent were opposed to the proposition whilst nine per cent said they did not know.
Although a majority of Liberal Democrat and Labour voters support a legalisation of same-sex marriage only 49 per cent of Conservative voters do so.
A legalisation is fiercely opposed by the Church of England and more than 50 Conservative MPs have pledged to vote against the proposal. The Home Office has received more than 100,000 responses, a majority of which oppose the idea.
This is a revelation which comes just over a month after the Scottish Government said they will go ahead with plans of a legalisation even though a public consultation had negative results.
The antisemitism of the British elite shows its face once again
Great Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has resigned as a supporter of an interfaith charity after it circulated an anti-Israel campaign.
Sacks said he was unable to continue working with the Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust after it sent supporters details of an initiative organized by the Quaker Council for European Affairs that attacks European Union trade links with Israel, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.
The WPCT’s newsletter encouraged the signing of a petition set up by the European Coordination of Associations and Committees for Palestine, a non-profit group that works with Palestinian NGOs.
In last Thursday’s message to supporters, WPCT included the suggested wording of a letter for campaigners to send to MEPs.
The thrust of the “action alert” concerns the EU’s proposed adoption of an agreement with Israel on pharmaceutical products.
The Palestinian pharmaceutical industry, the alert reportedly said, is “a prisoner of the Israeli system” and Palestinian West Bank companies suffer from Israeli occupation.
The Jewish Chronicle quoted an unnamed spokesman for Sacks as saying, “When the Chief Rabbi became patron of the Trust, its objectives were a commitment to world peace, and its aim to bring together people of diverse backgrounds in order to find common ground. Sadly in this instance, the Trust has failed to fulfill these objectives, and it is with regret that the Chief Rabbi can no longer remain a patron.”
British High School students must be told the whole truth about the value of a degree
“Mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked upon scandals of our time”
To listen to ministers talk about university education, it is as if Britain has entered an academic arms race with the rest of the world. China’s universities, we’re told, are spewing out six million graduates a year: we must compete, or we’re doomed. In the Blair years, a national target was set: half of all young people ought to enter higher education. They’d have to get into debt, but they were reassured it would be a worthwhile investment. Having some letters after your name meant going further in your careers and earning far more. Those without a degree, by implication, would enter the workplace at a distinct disadvantage.
It is surprising that David Willetts should continue this line of argument, because he is clever enough to know what simplistic nonsense it is. It is understandable for the Universities Minister to be in favour of studying, but the real picture of education in Britain is far more complex. The idea of a binary divide in the career prospects of graduates and non-graduates is not a picture that would be recognised by employers. In many lines of work, those who did not get the A-levels for university now have a future just as bright (or otherwise) as the graduates.
From the moment that John Major started to abolish student grants, the British government has been in the business of selling (rather than simply providing) higher education. Yes, studying costs, runs the argument, but it is an investment: what students pay is a small fraction of what they will get back.
Then came the proliferation of courses and institutions, from BA (Hons) in Golf Management at the University of the Highlands and Islands to Trade Union Studies at Blackpool College. The definition of a degree has changed massively, but the financial argument used for getting one has not changed at all.
When Mr Willetts trebled the cap on university fees, he justified this by arguing that a university degree will “on average boost your earnings by £100,000 over a lifetime”. If true, that would – more or less – justify the average £40,000 of debt which is expected to face those who start college this autumn. But it doesn’t take a A* in A-level maths to suspect that the £100,000 figure disguises a vast range of alternative scenarios, many of which imply disadvantage for those who, for whatever reason, give university a miss.
Last year the Government released a research paper that spelt it out. For doctors and dentists, a degree is a prerequisite. They will earn £400,000 more over a lifetime, as you might expect, having been fully trained for a well-paid profession. But for students admitted to less rigorous degrees, the premium quickly diminishes – especially for men. Those who graduate in the subjects I studied, history and philosophy, can expect to earn a paltry £35 a year more than non-graduates. For graduates in “mass communication” the premium is just £120 a year. But both are better value than a degree in “creative arts”, where graduates can actually expect to earn £15,000 less, over a lifetime, than those who start work aged 18.
With employment, it’s not much better. The old joke – “What do you say to an arts graduate? ‘Big Mac and fries, please’”– has all too much resonance now. Of recent graduates, almost a third are in jobs that don’t require anything more than GCSEs. One in 10 recent graduates is now on the dole. All youth unemployment is tragic, but there is something especially scandalous about young people who have been sold a vision of graduate life, only to find it was a piece of spin to sweeten the bitter pill of student loans. The mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked-upon scandals of our time.
The simplistic argument – that the brightest get the best grades and go to the best universities – would be more convincing if Britain had a meritocratic education system. But here, perhaps more than any other country, the quality of exam results are linked to background. For all the egalitarian aims of the comprehensive school system, it has produced the opposite: a system where a direct relationship can be drawn between pupils’ exam results and their families’ wealth. Scandalously few of those who live in our sink estates will have done much celebrating after their A-levels yesterday.
The league tables, showing the best state schools, bear a suspicious resemblance to prosperity indices. And this is not, to paraphrase Neil Kinnock, because British children from poor backgrounds are thick. It is strange how, after each set of A-level results, there is a uproar about how many pupils who qualified for free school meals are admitted into Oxford University – but less interest in how these children do so much worse at school, from primary years onwards. Employers have learnt that bright children don’t necessarily have the best GCSEs.
The ministerial focus of education as an economic tool risks missing the larger point. David Cameron’s Government is doing much to make the system work better. The most pernicious equation in public life, between wealth and GCSE results, cannot be found in the new breed of Academy schools. The Harris Academy group, which runs 13 schools in deprived inner-city boroughs, announced yesterday that it is sending pupils to Bristol University for maths, Warwick University for law and Imperial College for medicine. These sixth-formers would have enrolled at the school when it was a fledgling New Labour project; now there are hundreds of Academy schools. It is perhaps the most rapidly vindicated social experiment of modern times.
Even for undergraduates, things may be on the turn. Tuition at Britain’s best universities has always ranked among the best in the world; it is the lower-ranking colleges that have tended to short-change students. Mr Willetts’s decision to remove the cap on places for students with AAB at A-level should soon have universities competing for pupils with such grades. Next year, this will hold true for pupils with ABB results. Having introduced the bad side of a market system (fees), the proper side (competition for custom) will finally get under way.
By next year, all universities will be forced to release information on graduate employment rates for each course. This will help students work out if they are being conned. If all goes well, the number of good courses will expand, and the courses that serve neither students nor society will be exposed. And while there has been a dip in university applications, it has come from wealthier students. The offer of bursaries for students from the lowest-income families seems to be having the desired effect.
Much has been written about the “jilted generation” and how twentysomethings feel betrayed, saddled with debt and robbed of prospects. Unemployed graduates, all 130,000 of them, will be richly entitled to such resentment. Theirs may well end up being known as the transition generation, those sold university education for a hefty fee, before they were able to know what they were buying. But there is an upside to all this. If a degree is no guarantee of success in modern Britain, then the lack of one is no guarantee of failure. For those whose A-level results have precluded university, there is still all to play for.
Must not call a South African a “box”
There is a rather odd controversy recorded here where one white South-African-born cricket player referred to another white South-African-born cricket player by the Afrikaans word for “box”. Australians would understand that slang and its offensiveness.
The curious thing is that both players concerned were in fact playing for England against a South African team. The abused player was in fact the England captain, who seems to have been pretty upset.
The abusive guy is most unlikely to be selected to play for England again but he is undoubtedly a bit of an egotist so he deserves that. It is principally a matter of team loyalty and team cohesion (important matters in sport) rather than speech, as far as I can see.