By Mike Read, GDA Health representative 

On 18th November Deputy Heidi Soulsby, Minister of the Committee for Health and Social Care (CfHSC), announced Guernsey had secured access to the life changing Cystic Fibrosis drugs Orkambi and Symkevi. This followed the news a few weeks earlier that these drugs would be available free on the NHS in England, benefitting thousands of CF patients across the UK. Heidi said, “The availability of these drugs locally will improve the lives of people living with CF. This is part of our commitment, as outlined in the Partnership of Purpose to continually strive to improve the health and wellbeing of Islanders.”

Drugs, Treatments and Devices policy letter published.

On 25th November the CfHSC published their policy letter on the Review of the Funding of Drugs, Treatments and Devices. The intention is to address the growing inequality between the drugs and treatments supported with public funding in Guernsey and those available to patients in the UK and Jersey. The Committee now considers this disparity to be too great and can not be justified.

The policy letter proposes;

  • We should adopt a policy of funding National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) drugs and treatments including those approved from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF)
  • A phased approach over 2 years, prioritised on the basis of clinical cost effectiveness.
  • Costs not to exceed £5.6m in year 1 and £8.25m in year 2.
  • Initial funding will be met from the Guernsey Health Reserve (GHR).
  • The CfHSC will review this policy after 2 years and report back within 6 months on the possibility of extending drug availability further and include an audit of drug uptake in yrs 1 and 2, the long term funding arrangements, financial and resources implications.

Of note – Currently over 4000 local residents are on a medication the NHS would consider sub-optimal. In most cases this policy will improve patient quality of life, reducing side effects, the need for additional treatments and for some it will extend life or halt the progression of a disease. 

It is also important to understand that the introduction of this policy will not be at the expense of HSC’s wider transformation plans.

Island Health’s partners and practitioners which include the L’Aumone Surgery, St Sampson’s Medical Centre and the Town Surgery are fully supportive of the CfHSC aspirations.

We expect this to be debated in the States at the January 15th meeting.