The title says it all really - once you have a terminal diagnosis and require treatment to extend your life it then has a price tag on it. And usually a pretty big one.
Tonight I watched Adam Wisharts documentary 'The Price of Life'. It focused on the appraisal process used by NICE to determine whether any new treatment should be funded by the NHS - particularly those for terminal cancer patients.
Being a patient with terminal kidney cancer and also someone taking an expensive life extending drug I have to say I thought the programme pretty well balanced and informative. But it did raise some questions, questions that a lot of terminal cancer patients have been asking for some time now.
In my previous entry I have commented on how offended I felt to have Prof Barnett describe me as 'blinkered' and compare the drug I need to stay alive to buying a car. Why do NICE seem to think it is acceptable to have a go at patients? When you are diagnosed with a terminal illness but know there is a very effective treatment available which can extend your life what is wrong for asking for it? And the very last thing you want to do is to have to fight for it at a time when you should be making every moment count.
And as for Ms Christie, CEO of Birmingham East and North PCT, I hardly know where to start. In the two and half years I have spent campaigning to get life extending drugs funded for mRcc patients I have never come across someone as callous and unfeeling. Her attempts at emotional blackmail, by intimating that a cancer patient on life extending drugs would be depriving the PCT of a palliative care nurse, were truly disgraceful. She then went on to ask if it was 'in a patients best interests to fill their bodies with very toxic drugs for the last 2 months of their life' - which clearly shows she has absolutely NO knowledge of what she was talking about. Which is outrageous.
Ms Christie - having worked in the NHS for many years and knowing the terrible waste of money that occurs on a daily basis I suggest you get your own house in order first. Then, and only then, do you have the right to criticise cancer patients. In fact no, forget that, YOU will never have the right to criticise anyone.
One very important question that was raised yet again is why can't NICE negotiate with the drug companies? Or why can't the government? No one seems to be able, or willing, to answer this.
The final question asked by Prof. Barnett was 'How much more valuable is a month of life - at the end of life?
I will tell you Prof. Barnett.
It is priceless.