…and YOU DID IT!
NHS England announced on Friday 24 February that with immediate effect, they WILL routinely fund second stem cell transplants for patients who relapse.
The policy will ensure that any patient who relapses one year or more after their first donor transplant will be able to access the treatment they need.
This fantastic news is only possible because of all of YOUR support since July 2016.
Thank you so much – this decision shows how making your voice heard really can have an impact. Tragically, this decision comes too late for those who have already been denied the transplant that could have saved their life – but you have helped ensure that patients will no longer have to fight to get the treatment they need.
'It’s thanks to my second transplant that I’m able to live a normal life. I’m back at the gym, out seeing friends, getting back to work, and only have to visit hospital every 6 weeks!’
Emma – second stem cell transplant recipient.
If you have any questions about this issue, you may be able to find the answer in the text below. If you would like further information or to speak to our dedicated patient services team for support, please use the contact details at the bottom of the page.
So has NHS England changed their mind?
Yes; on Friday 24 February NHS England announced that they will routinely fund second stem cell transplants for patients who relapse more than one year after their first transplant. This replaces the announcement in December 2016 that second stem cell transplants were ‘not currently affordable’.
Why do some patients need a second transplant?
Every year, a small number of patients with a blood cancer or blood disorder who have already received one stem cell transplant from a donor will unfortunately relapse (their disease will come back). For some of these patients, their doctor might recommend a second donor stem cell transplant. It is estimated that 16 to 20 people every year in England will need a second transplant because their blood cancer or blood disorder has relapsed.
Which patients does this decision affect?
This decision affects a small number of patients in England who:
• have received a first donor (allogenic) stem cell transplant;
• were in complete remission;
• subsequently relapsed more than 12 months after their first transplant; and
• their doctor now recommends a second stem cell transplant.
This decision does not affect patients who suffer graft failure (their first transplant fails) or patients who have received a first transplant using their own cells (autologous). This decision only affects patients in England; patients in other parts of the UK are not affected.
Why does this decision only apply to patients who relapsed more than 12 months after their first transplant?
The recommendation of clinical experts is that patients who relapse more than 12 months after their first transplant have the best chance of a successful second transplant. Unfortunately, there is weak evidence for the effectiveness of second transplants for patients who relapse within a year of their first donor transplant.
What will happen to the messages and the petition now that NHS England has changed their mind?
We asked people to sign a petition and tell the government why they were joining the fight to Defend Second Transplants. We had planned to take the names on the petition and some of these messages to parliament on 22 March to present to the government. Despite the decision, we still plan to deliver some of your messages to Parliament on 22 March to show why this is such an important issue. We will share more details of how your messages will be delivered nearer the time.
Where can I go to get more support or advice?
We understand that you may be worried or have concerns about this issue, and so if you would like any further support please contact us using the email addresses below.
• If you have further questions or need clarification about NHS England’s decision and the #DefendSecondTransplants campaign, please email the campaigns team at firstname.lastname@example.org
• We recognise that this is very upsetting for patients and their families if you would like to speak to our dedicated patient services team for support, please email email@example.com and someone will get back to you as soon as they can.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak to someone, please call our switchboard 0303 303 0303 and ask to speak to the patient services team.