09 December

Most would say that you cannot put a cost on life, yet, we earn just to live and we pay out to survive. We tend not to question this system of living as it is all we’ve known. However we tend to bring this into consideration when our lives are put in jeopardy through illness.

We have discussed before the affects of cancer, as the illness does continue to take claim to more lives every year. What made us strike up the topic again was a recent news article from the BBC. Labour pledges that more funds will be placed into cancer funds to ensure cancer is the primary disease that is tackled, and the best care is received to patients.

This could indeed be a ploy for the party, however, if they followed through with their promise – patients and families could be looking at a rise in more time and recovery rates.

What we do wish to question is – the amount that needs to be invested still is obscene amounts of money – but of course ones that are worth it. However, is there a price we won’t say no to? To give a patient suffering breast cancer another 6 months, costs £90,000 a course to run.

The money and time spent should be given undoubtedly. And current PM David Cameron, did set up a fund of £200 million, that has been increased to £280m. This fund however is due to run out in 2016, which the labour party wish to replace with their cancer fund.

Mr Burnham (Shadow Health Secretary) made claim that their fund would target all patients in need, instead of a selected few.

“My goal is to make the NHS the best health service in the world for the treatment of cancer. We will only achieve that if we give patients access to the most effective forms of treatment, particularly advanced radiotherapy…The problem with cancer policy under the current government is that it prioritizes one form of cancer treatment over others and places one group of patients ahead of another. This is indefensible when we know surgery and radiotherapy are responsible for nine in ten cases where cancer is cured… 40,000 people every year who could benefit from radiotherapy are missing out.” [1]

However, there has of course been a backlash from the conservative party who pointed out Labour have not always agreed with the Cancer Drugs Fund and therefore may not be able to rely on the promises being made.

But what would excite all of us is the prospect, for we ourselves cannot generate the money needed for particular treatments. Some treatments do not get run purely due to them not being cost-effective for the NHS to run. With more invested, patients will have a better chance at receiving help.
Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said that our biggest issue with cancer is the lack of ‘commitment to diagnosing more cancers early. Surgery and radiotherapy are more likely to be effective when the disease is diagnosed in the earliest stages…Early diagnosis and access to treatment must be key priorities for a future government if it’s serious about improving the UK’s cancer survival rates.’ [2]

The main question we want to ask is; is there a price you would deny? Those patients missing out, miss out due to treatments not being available to them. Would we pay anything for this to be necessary? Surely.. we would?

[1] Gallagher, J. (2014). Labour pledges cancer therapy fund. BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30385594 [Accessed 9 Dec. 2014].

[2] Ibid

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