DoH to review 'co-payments' for NHS patients

Controversial rules that prevent NHS patients from buying drugs privately are to be reviewed, health secretary Alan Johnson announced yesterday.

Professor Mike Richards, national clinical director for cancer, will lead a review of co-payments for patients choosing to pay privately for drugs that are not funded on the NHS.

The rules most commonly affect patients in the later stages of cancer who want to pay for drugs not recommended by NICE because of their cost.

The King's Fund, the BMA and the NHS Confederation have all welcomed the review on the rules, which have been unchanged for 20 years.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘It is absolutely right to have a review on the issue of co-payments, which if implemented, could have a significant impact on the NHS. We understand the pressures individuals face when wishing to access the best treatments available but must also recognise the wider implications this will have.'

The review is due in October this year.

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