Annals of government medicine

Today’s installment of our long-running series comes courtesy of London’s Telegraph: “Cancer sufferers refused life-extending drugs despite Government pledge.” The Telegraph reports:

An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than 80 cases in which desperately sick NHS patients have been refused the cancer drugs their doctor sought, in the four months since a £200 million fund was introduced to stop health authorities rationing treatments.

The fund was a key move by the Coalition so that those suffering from cancer would never again be refused drugs on grounds of cost.

Ministers were responding to years of anger over a system which meant patients were unable to secure life-extending drugs because central NHS rationers had decided the treatments were not “cost effective”.

Announcing the fund last summer, Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, promised to end “the scandal” of cancer patients being refused the drugs that their doctors sought, because of restrictions by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

I hadn’t previously been aware of NICE. What a beautiful acronymic touch.

Via reader Zain Banatwala.

JOHN adds: Here in the U.S., we would refer to the “central NHS rationers” as “death panels.”