A petition to save the life of a former gynaecologist from Eastbourne, who has been told she cannot have a life-saving operation because the NHS may have to pay for a drug that protects people from HIV, has topped almost 10,000 signatures.
Harriet Scorer, a former High School and Eastbourne College student who now lives in Henley-on-Thames, is one of three women who suffer from a rare blood cancer and are being denied stem cell transplant operations because the High Court told NHS England it should pay for the drug that protects healthy people against HIV.
Harriet, diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1999, has undergone months of chemotherapy to prepare her immune systems for the operation but says she was told “point blank” that because the NHS would probably have to fund the HIV drug, they could not now put her through stem cell treatment.
She said, “I am self-employed. I have taken time off work, which I can’t afford, and the only reason I have gone through this aggressive treatment, which has made me very sick, is to get me to transplant stage.
“As a doctor, I understand that by having these chemo toxic drugs it could have long lasting side effects on my vital organs.
“I was told I would be fully fit by Christmas. Now I may just get two years’ survival.”
NHS England said, “Given the NHS has never had unlimited funding, it’s always been necessary to decide which are the best new treatments to fund and that’s what happening here. In the real world there’s no escaping the fact if an extra £20million is spent on one particular new drug, it won’t be available for other treatments.”
The petition, set up by Harriet’s school friends in Eastbourne, calls on the Government to instruct NHS England to reverse its sudden ban on stem cell transplantation.
It states, “Without prior warning, patients receiving lifesaving treatment for a rare form of blood cancer have had their funding for stem cell transplantation withdrawn by NHS England.
“A mother of three and a doctor are among those who started a course of treatment but are now being denied a stem cell transplant.
“This unethical decision has left patients completely in limbo and placed in jeopardy those patients currently waiting to start their treatment. NHS England must reverse this decision immediately and reinstate funding for this treatment which until August was available for patients with this rare form of blood cancer.”
The petition is at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/167441
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