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  1. Cancer fund "makes no sense"

    The government's Cancer Drugs Fund - relaunched last week - "makes no sense," according to one of its senior advisers.

    The chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has broken his silence on the fund, which aims to speed up adoption of new treatments for cancer.

    The fund allows patients and doctors to sideline NICE rulings, which often state that new drugs are too expensive for the NHS.

    But NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said his organisation should be responsible for the fund.

    It is currently managed by NHS England, which has already indicated it may removed some treatments from the fund.

    Speaking to a committee of MPs, Sir Andrew said, quoted in the Daily Telegraph: “We would like to move away from a situation where we apply our correct threshold we say yes to we say we can’t support routine use of other treatments, and in most cases the Cancer Drugs Fund then says yes to the treatments we have said no to.

    “I don’t think that makes any sense. It’s not a criticism of the decision to allocate more money to cancer. It’s about an alignment of processes and methodologies that we need to get sorted out.

    “There is no reason at all why we can’t provide the basis for NHS England’s on cancer treatments just as we do for all other treatments.”

  2. Patients purged from GP lists

    Growing numbers of patients are finding themselves suddenly without a GP after being removed in a money-saving exercise, it has been revealed.

    Nearly 12,000 people were wrongly removed from lists in the last year in the NHS England validation exercise.

    The figures were obtained from Freedom of Information requests to the organisations 25 area teams.

    Some ten were able to supply figures, revealing that more than 83,000 names were removed from lists.

    But 11,894 were reinstated after re-registering with their GP.

    In the Thames Valley area some 40% of the deleted patients were reinstated and in Birmingham 32%.

    GPs revealed that the validation methods involved sending letters to patients to check they were still at their addresses. But often the letters were not read or understood.

    Dr Tony Grewal, medical secretary of Londonwide local medical committees, said patients in multi-occupancy properties had been targeted.

    He said: "It is rare a letter sent to somebody living in a multi occupancy residency will get to the right person.

    "Very often these people don’t speak English as a first language, or don’t understand the importance of a letter they get from NHS England. Those seem to be the higher proportion of the removals."

    An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘NHS England takes all possible steps it can to contact patients and minimise the number who need to re-register - but there will always be some circumstances where patients do not respond and at that point we have to assume that they have moved away from that address and are therefore not in reality receiving services from that GP."

  3. Elderly could live on campuses and by hospitals

    Care centres for the elderly could be placed in hospital grounds and on university campuses, according to a think-tank.

    The elderly should no long be corralled into care homes and left in isolation, according to the report from a panel backed by think-tank Demos.

    It was chaired by former health minister Paul Burstow.

    The panel found a retirement complex in Boston, USA, built on a college campus where residents can do three hours of classes a week.

    They call for the easing of planning rules - which designated care homes as business premises.

    And they identified some 5,000 hectares of land owned by the NHS, calling for this to be sold for developments that include care facilities.

    Mr Burstow said: “The brand of residential care is fatally damaged. Unloved, even feared, for most people residential care is not a positive choice.

    “Linked in the public mind to a loss of independence, residential care is seen as a place of last resort.”

    He added: "In the UK and around the world we have seen great examples of how residential care can reinvent itself.

    “It is no longer a last resort, but a respected part of a continuum of ‘housing with care’, which is enabling people to lead bigger and more fulfilling lives.”

  4. Ashya backed for Prague trip as parents freed

    Brain cancer boy Ashya King was going to get support from his British hospital to undergo proton therapy, it was claimed yesterday.

    Ashya's parents were freed from prison in Spain yesterday after the UK authorities dropped an extradition warrant in the face of massive public pressure.

    But NHS authorities revealed the reason for the international hunt for Ashya, aged five, after his parents removed him from Southampton General Hospital.

    This was because he was being fed with a tube through his nose powered by an electric pump.

    Hospital authorities said they were concerned his parents were not trained to use the tube - and that its battery was only for occasional use. When Ashya was taken from the hospital the tube's power cord was left behind.

    The hospital statement said Ashya had a medulloblastoma.

    The hospital said doctors had discussed proton therapy with the family and explained they did not believe it would offer any benefit over standard radiotherapy.

    The statement said: "Despite this, the Trust agreed with the family to refer Ashya for proton radiotherapy, as the family had indicated that they could fund it privately."

    More than 200,000 people signed an on-line petition called for Ashya's parents to be released.

    During the day deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called for the extradition warrant to be dropped - and, after it was, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped in to welcome the move through a tweet.

    The prosecutors then revealed that Ashya's parents had charged his car pump through their car battery and ordered specialist foods for the tube.


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