From Conservative Home:
[The Conservatives] will raise the threshold for Employers National Insurance Contributions, which will free up £200 million from the NHS budget every year. A Conservative Government would use that money to create a Cancer Drugs Fund to ensure that no cancer patient is refused access to drugs that have been licensed since 2005 if their doctors say they need them.
There are many examples of anti-cancer drugs which have been certified as safe, but which the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has refused to make available on the NHS due to cost. So the money from the Cancer Drugs Fund will be added to the NHS tariff in order to pay for the extra cost of those drugs, meaning that doctors will be able to prescribe them without needing to apply to their Primary Care Trust for funding.
With £200 million pounds you might assume that the Conservatives would allocate it to deficit reduction. After all this is what they have told us time after time is their number one priority.
Instead, they are going to sidestep rational medical opinion and allocate it all to cancer drugs.
Rather than analysing and working out how this £200 million can best save lives or reduce suffering they are going to ring-fence it for their own pet project against cancer.
You will also notice that this is £200 million has been saved by promising not to increase a tax.
This is money which would have been in the NHS budget to spend as it saw fit which they are now going to have to give to whatever drug company can get the highest media profile for their cancer drug; regardless of efficacy.
Like with their Three Card Monte on Community Organisers the Tory Party are intent on moving money around in order to make it appear as though new funds have been found when they have not.
The Tory’s masterstroke is to move money which is being used relatively efficiently but with a low media profile to an inefficient area with a high media profile; hoping no body notices or cares.
This £200 million will save lives, but it won’t save as many as it could have done.
In fact by moving it from the NHS budget to Cancer Drugs Fund (a Quango I believe they are called) there is going to be a dead weight loss of some of this £200 million in the costs of administration. Not only is this money being used inefficiently but there will be less of it and more bureaucracy.
This move highlights three things which are becoming increasingly clear about the Tory party.
- Deficit reduction is not the Tory’s number one priority. As Chris Dillow argued it is mere window dressing and hot air.
- Secondly it shows a worrying propensity – which they share with New Labour – to pander to the press rather than follow evidence.
- They hate Quangos and bureaucracy except when they don’t, then they love Quangos and bureaucracy because they spend money on hard working families with cancer rather than black, gay or poor people.