Blood cancer patients denied a cure, new research reveals

February 20, 2017
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On Sunday 19 February, NHS England gave a statement to the effect that it was “confident” it would soon be able to announce funding for second stem cell treatments for blood cancer patients who have relapsed.

While the NHS England statement is welcome, we know there are patients affected right now who desperately need clarity about their situation. Until we have a formal announcement from NHS England confirming funding for second transplants, we urge our supporters to keep up the pressure through this petition to ensure that we get the outcomes that patients need. 


Research released in favour of second transplants

New research released today (20 February) by Anthony Nolan shows just one in ten (11%) people in England think the government is doing enough to support the NHS when it comes to second stem cell transplants, a potentially lifesaving treatment denied to people with blood cancer and blood disorders. Two thirds (66%) of people say the NHS should provide a second stem cell transplant to patients who relapse after their first transplant.

In December 2016 NHS England announced it would not routinely fund second transplants. Findings, released today as part of Anthony Nolan’s #DefendSecondTransplants campaign, show more than half (58%) of people in England feel the government is doing a bad job making sure the NHS has enough money to fund treatments patients need. The charity is calling on the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to meet patients and families affected by this decision and review the decision with NHS England.

More than a quarter of people (27%) would feel abandoned, if they needed a second transplant and were told the NHS was unable to provide one. Patients who need the treatment must hope a rarely granted Individual Funding Request (IFR) is approved by an independent panel or fund it themselves. Anthony Nolan’s research, carried out by Populus, found nearly half (47%) of people in England say it is unacceptable for patients or their families to be required to raise money for second transplants – a treatment which is routinely provided in countries across Europe and in the USA.


Gavin and Lisa's story

Forty-three year old Lisa Hepburn is a teaching assistant and mother of three. Lisa’s husband, Gavin, died last year after two IFRs for a second transplant to treat myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder, were declined.

Lisa says: “The decision not to fund Gavin’s second transplant has torn our family apart. There’s no explanation from the NHS; nothing from the heart. I feel for people who are in the situation of having to raise the money themselves.

“I can’t believe the government can put a price on a person’s life – that’s what they are doing! I know many people that need a second transplant – children, the same age as my own, who are terrified they might relapse. The situation needs to change, second transplants must be funded,” adds Lisa.



Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan says: “It is unacceptable that, despite evidence showing a second transplant is a cure for one in three people, patients are being abandoned against the recommendation, and best efforts, of their doctors.

“The Health Secretary must take action for people with blood cancer and blood disorders by raising this issue with NHS England. We ask that Mr Hunt meets patients and families affected, and take this issue up on their behalf with decision-makers at NHS England.

“With #DefendSecondTransplants the public is saying to government: enough is enough – patients are being denied a cure. Families are losing loved ones because the NHS is under pressure to make savings.”

NHS England’s decision not to fund second stem cell transplants will be reviewed in May.