Amendment 15

Part of Medicines and Medical Devices Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 8:45 pm, 12th January 2021

My Lords, we started this debate today with widespread plaudits to the Government for listening to very strong campaigns to have a patient safety commissioner. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, who has been so instrumental in this, commented on the importance of that person listening to patients. We have to draw the parallels here because we have heard—as a community, as a society, and as a Parliament—from the parents of children who desperately need these medicines but are unable to access them. Those patients are not being listened to. We really do have to ask ourselves the question of why that is happening and what kind of political block or ideological barrier exists so that we are not seeing action in this area when it is so clearly, urgently needed.

When we were talking about a patient safety commissioner, I commented on how effective campaigning has been in that area. There is also a very effective campaign called End Our Pain, which has been working with families trying to access this medicine. It has been doing a great job, but the Government have not been doing their job in delivering on the campaign. I give credit to the noble Lord, Lord Field of Birkenhead, and all the other people who have signed this amendment, which is very much cross-party and across the House. As the noble Lord said, we have a division here—a human rights issue, referred to in the amendment tabled earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan. People, or families, who can afford it, are able to access this medicine; those who need NHS support for it cannot. We should not be tolerating that situation in Britain at any time, particularly in 2021.

I have a direct question for the Minister. I have been looking at what assessment the Government might have made of the impact of current policies and the lack of financial support for vulnerable families. I should be happy to be corrected and perhaps told that an assessment is under way, but the most recent information that I was able to find was from September last year, when Liz Saville Roberts MP asked a Written Question in the other place about whether such an assessment had been made—and the answer was no. I will be brief, because the issues have been well set out by the noble Lord, Lord Field, and others. However, I ask the Government what assessment they have made of the impact of their current policies.