NHS Resources and Priorities

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:10 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 5:10 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, I hate to break up the party, but I do not believe for a moment that the resources announced today by the Minister will be sufficient to meet demand in the health service, taking into account the development of technology and an ageing population.

Several times we heard mention of the phrase, "first in the history of the health service" but perhaps I may ask the Minister about one specific matter which was not mentioned in his Statement.. Can he confirm that this Government are the first in the history of the health service to set a cash limit on the drugs budget? Under that limit, doctors are unable to prescribe drugs according to their clinical judgment because they are restrained by the cash limit imposed by this Government. Will the Minister consider removing those cash limits, or are we to see the inappropriately named organisation, NICE, continue to introduce rationing and deny people the care which they require--high quality care through drugs and other areas which we see being provided in other countries in Europe?

Can the Minister address his mind to the inequality of outcomes in France and Germany because drugs are available at a cost through the health care system? Can he also address his mind to the inequality created by the Government in this country through the introduction of cash limiting, which prevents drugs being available and which threatens the central principle of the NHS that people should receive the care that they require according to their need and not according to their ability to pay?