NHS falls short on cancer care

Cancer Partners UK has invested £30m in three new private cancer centres, underlining its belief that the NHS will fail to meet the rising demand for cancer treatments. The investment reflected an expectation that the cancer reform strategy target to increase radiotherapy facilities by 30 per cent by 2010 would not be met.

The new centres will be based in hospitals owned by Spire Healthcare. The company assumes that the vast majority of patients will have private medical insurance.

Doctors at the British Medical Association's (BMA) annual conference in Edinburgh agreed that patients should be able to buy treatment that is not available on the NHS without being forced to pay for all of their treatment privately.

Unfortunately, the conference stopped short of demanding the introduction of co-payments and made the rather useless suggestion that the government should set up a Royal Commission to review the issue.

So, if you have cancer, and pay for some drugs privately, you risk the NHS telling you to go away and pay for all your drugs and treatment privately; NHS founder Bevin must be spinning in his grave.

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