Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Professor M J Lind, the Academic Department of Oncology, The University of Hull

  I still remain very concerned about the ability of clinical researchers such as myself to undertake research with reference the NHS Cancer Plan. I think there is still an issue about the funding of new drugs and that this has not been sorted out. It was unfortunately dealt with by the Department of Health in a very poor fashion in that money earmarked for NICE drugs in particular did not seem to reach the providers and I think that you will find that many Cancer Centres and indeed Cancer Units are still struggling with their cytotoxic drug budgets.

  With regards to research, I think that the issue of excess service treatment costs whereby if a trial is carried out in the NHS involving technology or drugs that cost more than the standard cost, this excess service treatment cost has to be borne by the purchasers, which are now the PCTs, is a very poor mechanism. Indeed, there are many instances of purchasing authorities refusing to fund these excess service treatment costs and this will jeopardise research. In my own Institution this nearly came to a crisis when we had obtained a grant for a major research project only to be told that we might have to hand it back because the excess service treatment costs could not be met.

  With regards to the Virtual National Cancer Research Institute I think that this is a good idea however I would not wish to see cancer research funded entirely in the big centres. This will lead to a stifling of innovation and I think it is very important to have innovation in cancer research because we know that many of our treatments are ineffective. There are a number of small centres in which I include Hull and myself which do not have access to the large Cancer Research Funders' Forum and whose departments are not funded by these agencies and clearly will be at risk if it is decided that funds will be concentrated only in the Cancer Research Funders' own core institutions.

  With regards to your third point, the issue of cancer registration and its implications for data protection, I am glad that the Health and Social Care Act has now been passed and will allow the Secretary of State the mechanism by which to ensure cancer registration continues in an orderly manner. My major concern is that the Cancer Registry's modernisation document calls for electronic data transfer. Whilst I am in no way opposed to this, I think that Trusts are struggling with their information systems and I would therefore be very suspicious of the validity of this data and there needs to be modernisation of the information systems with close quality control of the data that is transmitted by them.

  I think that the new Cancer Research Networks are an excellent idea. We have just become one and I am very excited about that. However it is too early to say whether they are going to bring the benefits that are required.

M J Lind

Foundation Professor of Oncology

4 December 2001

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