At a debate in the House of Commons on 25 November, Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed challenged Government minister George Freeman on the Government's proposed changes to the Cancer Drugs Fund, which our supporters are very concerned about. Following the exchange RCF Chief Executive Andrew Wilson wrote to Mr Reed welcoming Labour's intervention, but also challenging Labour to make their own commitments on access to cancer treatment ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Andrew Wilson wrote:
I do hope you're well. I am writing to you to thank you for your contribution at Health Questions yesterday, when you asked the Government to clarify its position on the Cancer Drugs Fund. You correctly highlighted that the Prime Minister had promised to ensure that cancer patients would get access to the drugs their doctors thought they need – a promise which has been fulfilled to date by the Cancer Drugs Fund but which we now understand to be at risk. We are enormously grateful to you for holding the Government to account in the way that you did.
However, I am also writing to you in your capacity as a Labour frontbencher who might serve in a Labour administration after the next election, and to ask you whether Labour is now committed to the Cancer Drugs Fund. As the Health Minister mentioned in his reply to you, Labour has been clear to date that it does not see the Cancer Drugs Fund as a good policy. I expect and hope that your statement at Health Questions is indicative of a change in this position. It is difficult to see how Labour feels able to press the Government on the Cancer Drugs Fund if the Labour Party remains committed to a policy which would see it abolished.
I do hope to hear from you soon. As our members would expect, I am making my words to you publicly available on our website.
Mr Reed's response will be published when it is received.