Campaign – Iris Robinson vindicated!

Just to be clear: “Eyesight of thousands to be saved after NICE approves drug,” NICE rulings applying to Northern Ireland as well as England and Wales, but not to Scotland ( so therefore not UK wide as I posted earlier, although knowing better and have now corrected).

The ruling applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland – the drug is already approved in Scotland.

In Wales and Northern Ireland extra funding was promised to pay for all suitable patients to receive the drug.

Let’s give Iris Robinson a pat on the back for a change for running at least one decent campaign.

February 2007
Mrs. Iris Robinson (Strangford) (DUP): What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that people have the same opportunity to receive treatment for macular degeneration right across the country? In particular, Northern Ireland seems to be the last part of the United Kingdom to receive access to drugs, while others on the mainland benefit from them based on NICE guidelines.

Ms Hewitt (then Health Secretary) : Health is a devolved matter. At the moment, I understand that the health boards in Northern Ireland are not funding either Macugen or Lucentis. However, I am sure that they will want to take account of the NICE guidance, as soon as it becomes available.

In NI, the result was old news apparently – the news broke there as long ago as June. That makes a change.

I hope the meetings sent well. It would be interesting to hear what happened next. Perhaps the Macular Disease Society locally or the RNIB could tell us?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London