Free prescriptions a real help for cancer patients in the North East – Primarolo

Dawn Primarolo MP, Labour’s Health Minister, marked national Cancertalk Week by confirming this morning that patients can apply for free cancer drug prescriptions from today. The system will come into force on 1st April this year. Figues show that over 17,000 people in the North East are affected by cancer in a year.

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, pledged free cancer prescriptions in September last year. The Labour Government already guarantees that anyone suspected of having cancer will see a specialist within two weeks and those diagnosed with the disease will begin treatment within a month.

Dawn Primarolo said:

“This new scheme gives people living with cancer one less worry at such a difficult time.

“Everyone undergoing treatment for cancer or its effects is entitled to free prescriptions from 1st April. Labour is giving cancer patients real help now, whereas David Cameron’s do-nothing party would scrap Labour’s guarantee that all suspected cancer patients can see a specialist within two weeks.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. 17,608 were diagnosed with cancer in the North East region during the year 2006 according to National Statistics. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=8843&Pos=&ColRank=1&Rank=272

2. The free prescriptions have been welcomed by Macmillan Cancer Care. Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Care, said:

"We are delighted the Government has listened and abolished prescription charges for cancer patients. This was absolutely the right thing to do. Cancer not only threatens your life, but can also make you poor. Free prescriptions will transform the lives of thousands of people living with cancer who were struggling to pay for drugs."

3. The Conservatives say they would scrap Labour’s tough targets and patient guarantees – including on cancer treatment waiting times. These guarantees save lives.

Sarah Montague:  So a target that they are in the process of introducing which is that by the end of this year no-one will be waiting longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to hospital treatment, you’d get rid of that?
David Cameron:  We think these process targets are wrong.
BBC Radio 4, Today, 3 January 2008

“We will scrap all centrally-imposed targets relating to clinical processes, and replace them with a new focus on outcomes.”
Conservative Party, “The patient will see you now, doctor: How the next Conservative Government will create an NHS personal to all”, 29 September 2007, p. 4