Individual Patient Treatment Requests

– in the Scottish Parliament on 8th May 2013.

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Photo of Willie Coffey Willie Coffey Scottish National Party

13. To ask the Scottish Government what recent progress there has been with the review of the individual patient treatment request process. (S4O-02087)

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

The review report on the role and remit of national health service board area drug and therapeutic committees and individual patient treatment request arrangements was published on Friday 3 May 2013.

Photo of Willie Coffey Willie Coffey Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary will be aware of the struggle that my constituent Janice Glasswell and her family endured recently and of the fact that, sadly, Mrs Glasswell passed away last month. At no time did the family feel as though they were an integral part of the IPTR process—they felt excluded from it.

I ask the cabinet secretary to ensure that that changes; that all information is made available to patients and to their families; and that full and concise explanations are given in writing by clinicians when determining all future applications for access to specialist cancer drugs.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I met Mr and Mrs Glasswell some time ago and I fully appreciate the difficulties that the family are now facing. Clearly, one of the reasons why we set up the reviews in the first place was the degree of public dissatisfaction with the current process in a number of cases.

We now have the reports from Professor Swainson and from Professor Routledge, which we discussed at the Health and Sport Committee meeting yesterday. The committee will produce its report and recommendations—hopefully before the summer recess. The recommendations—particularly Professor Swainson’s in the case of IPTRs—should go a long way towards assuaging the concerns of families who might find themselves in a similar situation to the Glasswell family in the future.

Our intention is that clinicians—and, importantly, not politicians—should take the decisions. When clinicians cannot support an IPTR, there should be a proper explanation of the clinical reasons why the application has been unsuccessful.

I fully appreciate that many members have constituents who are in a similar situation. We will wait for the committee’s recommendations and I hope that, once we implement the recommendations, we will have a more robust system that will be able to deal with such a delicate situation more sensitively in the future.