The Welsh Government has announced that a £16 million fund is being made available to provide additional support to health boards in Wales to speed up access to medicines recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG). £12 million will be released immediately, with a further £4 million “being made available later”.
Under the new system:
All health boards in Wales will be required to make a NICE or AWMSG recommended medicine available to patients no later than two months from the data that the final guidance is published. Currently health boards have three months to make the treatment available.
Health boards will now be expected to introduce recommended medicines at the first publication of NICE’s final guidance, rather than waiting for the final Technology Appraisal guidance published after the appeal period.
Applied in combination, these two measures mean that in future, all NICE and AWMSG recommended medicines will be available to patients up to eight weeks earlier than current timelines.
Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the only UK charity dedicated solely to lung cancer, welcomed the announcement.
Lorraine Dallas, Director of Information and Support Services said, “This is good news for lung cancer patients in Wales. They will now get access to medicines two months earlier, which is obviously a significant improvement, especially for those who may have few treatment options.
“Many patients simply do not have time to wait. We believe that the same treatments should be available within the same timescale to patients living in England and Wales.”