- Maureen Fleming, 63, was diagnosed with bowel cancer six years ago
- Has been refused the life-extending drug cetuximab in Scotland
- If she lived in England she would get the £10,000 treatment free on the NHS
- She and husband Ian are now considering relocating to Newcastle
12:14 EST, 16 May 2013
13:14 EST, 16 May 2013
A grandmother is being forced to become a ‘health refugee’ and move to England to get the cancer treatment she needs to extend her life.
Maureen Fleming, 63, was diagnosed with bowel cancer six years ago and was refused the drug cetuximab in Scotland.
She and her husband Ian are now considering relocating to Newcastle where
consultants say she may get the life-prolonging treatment on the NHS.
Cancer sufferer Maureen Fleming and her husband Ian are seriously considering moving from Scotland to England to get the life-extending cancer drugs she needs
Their plight was raised directly with Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.
The couple watched from the public gallery as Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont described them as ‘health refugees’.
They agreed to come to Parliament once all avenues were exhausted.
While cetuximab is free in England, cancer patients in Scotland have to pay about £3,000 a month for it.
Cetuximab was approved for use on the NHS by the Scottish Medicines
Consortium but the ‘decision to restrict its use’ was made as a result
of an application by the drugs company, said Mr Salmond.
Mrs Fleming, a retired secretary from Bonhill, West Dunbartonshire,
later said: ‘If you can afford to pay for the treatment, you get it. If
you can’t, you don’t. An option for us is to relocate down south or to
another area where we can get this drug.
‘I would just like to know why you can’t get it on the NHS when others get it.’
Paying for the treatment privately costs about £10,000, she said. When the money runs out, the couple feel it is ‘probable’ they will have to move.
They are already searching for suitable rented accommodation.
Mr Fleming, a 65-year-old retired shipyard supervisor, said: ‘We feel as
if the NHS is letting us down. I’ve worked all my life, I’ve worked
right up to when I retired last year.
Mrs Fleming was diagnosed with bowel cancer six years ago, and was refused the drug cetuximab in Scotland
‘We’ve three children with families of their own. They’ve all got that
work ethic that’s been instilled in them from their mum and I. Maureen
only stopped working to have kids, then back to work again.
‘So we feel as if we’ve contributed our NHS for 50 years and we can’t
get the drug that Maureen needs. We think it’s very unfair that as
citizens of here we have to move to England.
“We’ve got families and it would involve a bit of upheaval because we
do, like most grandparents, nursery runs, picking up the kids, school
runs, so our children can go to work. There’s that aspect too, that we’d
be giving up that to move to England.’
The couple, who have 10 grandchildren, approached Labour MSP Jackie Baillie more than six months ago to raise their concerns.
Mrs Fleming was described by her consultant as an ‘ideal candidate’ for the treatment.
The couple’s plight was raised directly with Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood. The couple watched from the public gallery as Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont (left) described them as ‘health refugees’
‘To pretend to people that there is a solution to these hugely difficult
questions that are being faced by every health service across the
world, in terms of efficacy of what drugs can be approved for use, is
misleading people entirely,’ Mr Salmond said.
Asked what Ms Fleming thought of the First Minister’s responses, she said: ‘Not a lot.’
She continued: ‘The drug is there, the treatment is there for anybody
that needs it. You’re not getting it because you’re not in this wee box.
If you can pay for it, it’s there for you. It seems unfair.’
In the debating chamber, Labour leader Ms Lamont said prescriptions for
aspirin and paracetemol can be free while cancer treatment can be
‘Scots with hayfever can get their prescription for free but Scots with
cancer may have to leave their homeland for treatment to save their
Cancer sufferer Maureen Fleming and her husband Ian are seriously considering moving from Scotland to England to get the life-saving cancer drugs she needs
Flemings are a proud family. They are struggling to get together the
£10,000 needed for the first three months’ treatment. But they can’t
afford to pay for any more after that, so they are planning to leave
their home of 27 years and rent a flat in Newcastle because in England
they can get the drug for free.
is short, so Maureen Fleming has come to this chamber today to hear
first-hand what is the First Minister’s advice to her and cancer victims
A spokesman for the First Minister later criticised her assertion,
arguing that painkillers are frequently prescribed to long-term
sufferers of conditions such as heart disease or chronic pain.
Ms Baillie, the Flemings’ local MSP, said her party would ‘absolutely’ find the cash to offer more cancer drugs to patients.
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The comments below have been moderated in advance.
Very very sad situation that Scotland would not support this cancer victim however I do not support them moving to England and claiming NHS! Err if I moved to Scotland could I have free university fees paid…err no! Lets see which way the vote for their referendum. I vote that England have a referendum as to whether we keep Scotland lol bet I know the answer to that one! I hope this cancer victim gets her treatment but NOT at our expense being as blatantly rude the Scottish are about the English.
UK, United Kingdom,
Oh dear… is not independent yet.
here, United Kingdom,
Presumably this kind of practice will be against the law if Scotland get their independence?
Stoke on Trent,
All paid for by ENGLISH tax payers!
As sad as it is, this is not recipricol is it. I wonder how the Scots would view an English patient going there for free prescriptions and treatment.
AND THEY WANT INDEPENDENCE !!!
A common story should they get their independence…..
I read that while prescriptions are free in Scotland doctors were far less likely to prescribe the ones needed. Sadly the media uses the free prescription issue and the benefits ‘data’ to cause division but Scotland is a net contributor to the UK. Irrespective of the politics I hope the woman gets to spend many more years with her family.
London, United Kingdom,
I think with these super drugs there has to be some cut off ….- michelineb, uk, 16/5/2013 18:56 There is! It’s based on research – she’s an “ideal canditate” so therefore she should have the drugs. FYI I have cancer and get drugs from the NHS to extend my life by months or years based on scientific research. The median is 8 months. They test the type of cancer in order to ascertain whether there is a chance of it working. They give me a CT scan every 3 months to see if they are working and only 1 months supply in case I die in the meantime. DM probably won’t post this as they like to make trouble for the NHS – there is a system to prevent waste but most importantly extend life. Let’s face it I won’t get my pension or my bus pass so I don’t see a few thousand now as too much given I’ve paid my taxes. Also the pills replace traditional chemo which comes at a cost. Perhpas you’d like to tell my 3 children, 10, 7 and 3 my life isn’t worth extending.
Fair enough. As long as the english get free prescriptions, tuition fees and old age care if they move to Scotland.
kent, United Kingdom,
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