National Inequality is becoming routine. NHSreality expects patients to have different rights of services in different areas of the country. The failing system in denial is the BIG issue for the new year. Have a Happy Unequal one. Philip Collins opines on 23rd December in The Times: Never forget that we live in the best of times – There has been much to mourn in 2016 but by almost every measure the world is becoming wealthier and fairer
His health paragraph reads: “The world once again got healthier in 2016. A WHO report showed that, since 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60 per cent. Since their peak a decade ago, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 per cent. The world is getting closer to cracking maternal mortality, which has fallen 44 per cent since 1990. Infant mortality has halved over the same period. Worldwide, people can expect an extra seven years of life compared to a relative born in 1990. Liberia was officially cleared of ebola in 2016, the last case of the deadly tropical virus in West Africa. The WHO announced that measles has been eradicated in all the Americas, from Canada to Chile. In April, the WHO said that polio could be wiped out within a year. The incidence of malaria is falling all over the world. In wealthy countries, colon cancer, dementia and heart disease are all waning.”….
and ends: “At Christmas we should take a break from pessimism, just for one day.”
In letters on 24th December:
Sir, In his article “Never forget that we live in the best of times” (Comment, Dec 23), Phil Collins omits to mention the bad news in disease control. The World Health Organisation reported a marked increase in cases of tuberculosis in 2016, particularly of drug-resistant strains. Few people realise that TB now kills more people than Aids and that almost half a million HIV/Aids sufferers actually die from TB annually. TB is clearly the forgotten plague that is creeping back at our peril.
Professor Peter Davies
Secretary TB Alert, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital
In letters December 18th:
Fears over access to cancer drug
AS A consultant oncologist and the chairman of Beating Bowel Cancer’s (BBC) medical board, I am deeply concerned that we are returning to the situation in the NHS where patients have to fundraise or use their own assets to pay for drugs (“AA Gill, giant of journalism, dies aged 62”, News, and “AA Gill faces up to his cancer”, Magazine, last week).
The Cancer Drugs Fund initially allowed patients in England with bowel cancer access to many of the new chemotherapies widely available in much of Europe and North America. These agents were then steadily removed. This is tragic, especially since patients in Wales and Scotland will have free access to some of them.
It cannot be acceptable that in a 21st-century NHS, patients must have to pay privately for a drug that can extend their life. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is reviewing continued access to two bowel cancer drugs that are presently available. I do hope it listens to patients and oncologists in England and says yes.
Dr Mark Saunders, Consultant Oncologist, Chairman of BBC medical board
—- which deserves a separate posting.