NHS England has been consulting on the proposals for the use of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) that will take effect from April 2016. The CDF is a ring-fenced fund to get cancer drugs, that are not routinely available, to patients. We have submitted a response to the consultation.
The proposed changes to the CDF represent a marked improvement to the current arrangements.The CDF has historically incurred large overspends which have been topped up by funds taken from NHS England’s budget for the commissioning of medicines and services for rare conditions. However the new proposals fix the CDF annual budget allocation and apply investment control mechanisms within the fixed budget. We support this measure to prevent these massive overspends from occurring in future years.
Whilst we welcome these changes, we have also highlighted our overarching position that ring-fenced funds create inequality in the evaluation and commissioning system in our response. It is clear that to ring-fence funds for a particular group of patients puts those who are not part of that group at a disadvantage. Because a ring-fenced fund will have it’s own criteria for evaluation, unfair and inconsistent decisions may be made. In this situation the resources of the NHS cannot be distributed in an equitable manner.
The best means to ensure that all patients are able to access effective medicines and services on the NHS is by establishing a system for evaluating and commissioning them that is timely, transparent and fair to all.