A TERMINALLY ill cancer sufferer has hit out at the "men in suits, acting like God, playing with people's lives."
Adrian Ashby, aged 49, of Alcester, has been told by Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Primary Care Trust that it will not fund life-prolonging treatment for his rare form of cancer.
Adrian, who is terminally ill with carcinoid syndrome, sat with his wife, Debbie, at their home in Oversley Green, and told the Herald this week, that the PCT decision, he received in a letter, was like “being kicked in the face”. “I might as well start planning my own funeral,” he said.
He thinks he’s yet another victim of a postcode lottery system which sees some patients get treatment while others don’t, simply because of where they live.
And even though he was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago and knows he hasn’t got long to live, Adrian wants to be around for a while longer so he can spend time with his grandchildren.
He became a grandad last year. And like any proud parent he wants to live long enough to attend his son’s wedding next year.
The life extending radionic treatment costs £50,000 and Adrian said he’s even prepared to sell his house to pay the bill but his doctors have been left stunned by the PCT’s refusal to act and believe Adrian is a prime case for targeted radionuclide therapy and urged him to go public with his story and tell the media.
In a remarkable demonstration of people power, friends and family have reacted angrily to the PCT decision and rallied round Adrian and Debbie with a series of forthcoming fundraising events in Alcester. A Facebook page called League of Friends, Adrian Ashby, has been created with over 1,000 supporters already signed-up and numerous pledges of financial support, including one from a local youngster who’s pledged her paper round money to help pay for Adrian’s treatment.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by people’s support, it’s very touching,” said Adrian, who’s obviously moved by the messages he’s received and which continue to flood in. “I have no complaints with the NHS and the team of doctors and specialists who’ve supported me throughout but I’m sorry to say that the PCT panel who’ve refused me funding strike me as men in suits, acting like God who are playing with people’s lives. I plan to appeal against the decision but this will once again involve highly-paid people sitting down to discuss my case, which costs more money to the tax payer. That money could have been used to fund my treatment in the first place.”
Adrian was once an active member of the community. He regularly started the bidding at charity events and used to run the line at Alcester Town Football Club. He’s well-known in the town having been the proprietor of Alcester Carpets and Curtains for the past 14 years. A business which his three sons now help run after they gave up their education to support dad after the cancer was diagnosed.
Now Adrian is restricted to sitting still in his armchair at home because it’s too painful to move around the house. He weighs seven-and-a-half-stone and regularly has to have water drained from his stomach.
The tumours are unrelenting. He has them in his bowel, liver, groin, stomach lining and chest cavity and while early attempts to combat the cancer with tablets and chemotherapy failed, medical experts at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham are convinced the treatment Adrian now needs will extend his life by two more years.
Coventry and Warwickshire NHS PCT said in a letter to Adrian there was insufficient evidence for treatment to continue but he says that at no stage has any verbal contact been made by the PCT to explain why.
The PCT panel, which reviewed Adrian’s case and ultimately decided to refuse funding, included Martin Lee, medical director at the Arden Cluster, who this week issued the following statement to the Herald: “I understand that this is a difficult time for Mr Ashby. Whilst I am unable to comment on an individual patient, we have a clear process in place for treatments that are not routinely commissioned to be considered as an individual funding request (IFR).
The process involves a panel of clinicians looking in detail at the patient’s case and whether the patient's circumstances are exceptional such that funding should be provided for the particular treatment. When any funding request is turned down, there is always the option to appeal to the IFR review panel. In the case of cancer treatments, there is also the option to request funding from the West Midlands Cancer Drugs Fund, who are able to fund certain treatments in line with their policies.”
The cost of the £50,000 treatment Adrian needs cov-ers the drugs and therapies but not any additional hospital costs such as staff time.
In desperation Adrian has also contacted Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi who this week said: “I was very sorry to hear that the PCT felt unable to fund Mr Ashby’s treatment and have written to the chief executive regarding their decision. However in recognition that decisions like these do happen the coalition government has allocated £600 million to an entirely separate cancer drugs fund which will pay for drugs, including radiopharmaceuticals, that PCTs feel unable to fund. So far this fund has helped 25,000 cancer patients in England and I hope will also be able to help Mr Ashby.”
Adrian and his medical team are planning to appeal against the PCT decision, but for the time being, his struggle to live continues on a daily basis.
“I know I’m dying but I’d like more time with my family,” he told the Herald.
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