(Title Image: BBC)
It’s very rarely you hear a good news story about health in Wales, but they do happen from time to time….
Last year, the Welsh Government launched a £80million New Treatments Fund to….unsurprisingly….improve access to the latest medical treatments.
Updating AMs, the Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth), said the fund was overcoming the postcode lottery and providing patients with faster access to NICE-approved medicines.
82 new medicines have been introduced under the scheme, covering conditions such as arthritis, MS, epilepsy, asthma and rare diseases, benefiting 4,000 patients.
Guidelines state new medicines should be made available within 2 months of NICE approval, but the average across Wales had fallen to just 10 days after monitoring was put in place to see how quickly health boards were adding new treatments.
Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.) was delighted that the fund was working well, but noted with caution that the number of recommended medicines had fallen slightly in 2017 compared to 2016. She also asked whether the introduction of new medicines should be part of a wider strategy to target certain diseases to ensure health boards had the right policies in place.
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) welcomes the success but believes health boards shouldn’t have to rely on a fund to do things they’re supposed to do anyway. He pointed out that it’s not only new medicines that improve patient outcomes but new technologies and awareness programmes too – were there barriers to that?
Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West) wondered how health boards manage the ongoing costs of new treatments after they’ve been introduced? Caroline also hoped that a similar scheme will become available for therapies and non-medicine treatments.