CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

HEALTH – POSTCODE LOTTERY – 24 October 2006

Dr Julian Lewis: My constituent, Brian Jago, was fortunate enough to receive a course of Velcade, as a result of which he does not have to move to Wales – as he was going to do – where he could have got it free. He now faces the prospect of at least another two years of high-quality life. Is not that the worst form of postcode lottery?

[The Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham): In making public statements, it is extremely important that we do not seek to mislead and give patients false expectations of what is available in other parts of the United Kingdom – [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) will hear me out, I will explain to him that interim guidance is issued in Wales, but NICE guidance, when finalised, will also apply in Wales. That is the system, so there will not be any difference between the two countries. The hon. Gentleman will be aware from a press release issued by NICE this week that, according to the manufacturers' evidence, Velcade has the potential to extend life by one year. It is important to consider such matters in the round and to have a balanced discussion and, if resources can be put elsewhere into cancer care, to take such decisions so that we provide the best possible treatment to patients for the money available.]