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Free Herceptin Treatment for Those Who Live Over the Welsh Border

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital treats people from Shropshire and parts of Wales. Breast cancer patients from England must pay £47,000 to get the wonder drug Herceptin but Welsh women get it for free. //

This discrimination arose when the Primary Care Trust in Shropshire refused to pay for Herceptin for early stage breast cancer sufferers until the drug is licensed. But it is free for the welsh as all Welsh Local Health Boards have agreed to pay for the drug for women living in Wales even if they are treated in England. In one instance four women are being treated from Mid Wales at the 544-bed Shrewsbury hospital.

But Margaret Bradford, 54, who lives in Oswestry, Shropshire two miles from the Welsh border was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer but is denied the free drug. She said that the drug has to be given to all those who need it. Hence she and her family had to start a fundraising campaign to pay for her treatment privately. She has now started a year-long course of Herceptin at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.

She is paying to have her treatment in Manchester because the hospital there was able to offer it for £32,000 - £15,000 cheaper than in Shropshire. The Shropshire Six is a group of women who are campaigning to get their PCT to fund the drug. Their campaign is supported by fellow breast cancer sufferer. In another incidence where Susan Morgan, 41, of Coton, Shropshire was denied the free treatment for the same cause is also note worthy. Then her daughter Katie, ten, wrote to North Shropshire Tory MP Owen Paterson pleading with him to help her mother obtain the drug.

Mr Paterson said that it is a very sad plight for the women in Shropshire because despite them regularly paying their tax they had to raise huge sums of money, while women two miles away in Wales are getting the drug in the same hospital for free. The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is awaiting formal confirmation from the Dyfed Powys Lo cal Health Board about the number of patients that will be sent to them from Wales. On the other hand Shropshire PCT is waiting until Herceptin is licensed for treating early stage breast cancer before it approves funding.

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