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Urgent review of cancer drug case

PUBLISHED: 17:15 18 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:02 13 July 2010

Richard Batson

An urgent review of a Norfolk man's cancer drug funding will be held by health staff on Monday - after a scathing report recommended they should do a u-turn and approve life-improving treatment.

An urgent review of a Norfolk man's cancer drug funding will be held by health staff on Monday - after a scathing report recommended they should do a u-turn and approve life-improving treatment.

Former fireman Barry Humphrey from North Walsham has a terminal rare liver cancer, and his doctors said his life could be lengthened and improved by using a new drug sorafenib.

But the medicine has yet to be evaluated by the government's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and NHS Norfolk refused to make him an exceptional case and fund two trial sessions of treatment costing a total of £5,000.

The angry family and their MP Norman Lamb battled to get the decision overturned, and, as reported earlier in the EDP an independent review by the neighbouring Suffolk health authority concluded Norfolk's decision was wrong, and Mr Humphrey should be funded.

It said he was a suitable case, that the Norfolk panel had failed to take into account the 59-year-old's social circumstances, which saw him caring for his 91-yaer-old mother and deaf-blind daughter, and criticised poor communication with the patient who had to wait a month to learn of the original refusal.

NHS Norfolk has now revealed that a special meeting of relevant senior staff will be held on Monday, and stressed that the matter was being dealt with urgently.

A statement from the authority today said the meeting would review the recommendations and comments, before putting the matter before its board meeting on Tuesday July 22 - for a final decision.

The debate would be in a private part of the agenda, as was “appropriate for the handling of an individual patient's case.”

Mr Humphrey of Kimberley Road, said he was pleased the authority was not dragging out the decision to the end of a 10-day response deadline, and hoped they it would just “take it on the chin and do what it has to do.”

Mr Lamb has called on the authority to follow the recommendation and pay up, and hold a “fundamental review” following the scandalous delays, lack of openness and poor communication in the case.

And a national cancer drug funding campaigner Kate Spall has said she was horrified by the saga, and demanded other decisions by the exceptions panel were reviewed in case they were also flawed.

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