Too old to get lifesaving drugs: Anger at plan to deny treatment if you've had a 'fair innings'Plans would consider 'wider societal benefits' when giving out medicines
NHS body fears the proposals would mean the young are a 'higher priority'
Prompted fears the elderly are receieving a worse deal from health service
Doctors, MPs and campaigners condemned the plans as ‘barking mad’
By Jenny Hope and Daniel Martin
PUBLISHED: 17:55 EST, 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 17:55 EST, 17 February 2014
Patients who have had a ‘fair innings’ could be denied life-saving drugs under proposed health reforms.
The plans would mean experts taking into account whether there is a ‘wider societal benefit’ to giving a patient crucial medicines.
The NHS rationing body, Nice, fears the Department of Health proposals could see younger people deemed a higher priority for drug treatments because they have more years ahead of them – potentially contributing more to the economy – than the elderly.
Doctors, MPs and campaigners last night condemned the plans as ‘barking mad’.
The move will also fuel fears that the elderly are receiving a worse deal from the health service than the young.
Cancer charities have already warned that ‘cruel restrictions’ mean older patients have been denied medical treatment
, regardless of a proper assessment of their fitness levels and how likely they could benefit from treatment.
Sir Andrew Dillon, the head of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, said he was concerned about the new rules and feared they would lead to older patients being penalised in a ‘hard-nosed’ and ‘crude’ economic approach.
The reforms, which are being consulted on, would see new drugs assessed for the first time based partly on whether they would benefit society as a whole – not just the patient
. For example, a drug that helped people to live longer in an expensive care home, or on welfare, might have a ‘negative’ social value not outweighed by the benefit to the individual, because such patients take more from society than they can put back.
Sir Andrew said: ‘There are lots of people who adopt the fair-innings approach: “You’ve had 70 years of life – you’ve got to accept society is going to bias its investments in younger people.” There are people who subscribe to that, but it’s not something we feel comfortable with.’
He said an initial assessment by Nice suggested that accounting for ‘wider societal benefit’ would inevitably tilt funding away from the old because younger patients had more to gain from treatment and more to give back.
He added: ‘We’re really concerned that we don’t send out a message that we value life less when you’re 70 than when you’re 20.’ ...Read the rest at Daily Mail (U.K.)