Patsy McGlone 25th February 2008
Written Answer from the Minister for Health
Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration
Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what steps are in place to ensure that sufficient resourcing and capacity is being created at the (i) Belfast Health and Social Care Trust; and (ii) Western Health and Social Care Trust, in order to ensure that all patients, who require intravitreal treatment for wet age related macular degeneration (AMD), are able to access such treatment.
Mr M McGimpsey: The allocation of funding for specialist hospital drugs is a matter for Health and Social Services Boards, as commissioners of services. The recent budget settlement includes additional funding for hospital and specialist drugs of £39m by 2010/11, which will allow the health service to improve access to specialist therapies for a range of conditions, including sight-preserving treatments.
Boards are currently providing funding for treatment with anti-VEGF drugs for patients with the greatest clinical priority. To date, 120 people in Northern Ireland have been treated. Boards and Trusts will be expected to plan for the immediate development of services to preserve the sight of people affected by age-related macular degeneration, consistent with the emerging evidence base for the treatment of this condition.
Decisions on the resources and capacity needed to deliver new treatments for wet AMD in the longer term will depend on the outcome of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence appraisal of these new technologies. The Institute’s final guidance is expected to be published in June 2008.