INDEPENDENT NEWS

50 Haematologists From Across The Country Join Advocacy Groups Call On Government

Published: Thu 6 Jun 2024 09:16 AM
Auckland, 6 June 2024
New Zealand’s alliance of blood cancer patient advocacy groups has been backed by more than 50 haematologists from across the country in writing an open letter to Government seeking reassurance that medicines funding commitments to blood cancer patients will be honoured.
As the Government is working to put right the Budget Day omission of the funding of 13 medicines for solid tumour cancer patients, the open letter reminds the Prime Minister and health ministers of an important pre-election commitment made by Dr Reti to blood cancer patients when announcing the policy; “we have not forgotten you”.
In March, the Minister of Health also expressed his expectation that the list of 13 medicines is updated to include consideration of blood cancer medicines. “…the blood cancer medicines were not actually assessed. I would like to think that they [Pharmac and the Cancer Control Agency] might incorporate that advice as well. The list may change” A statement that raised significant hope for blood cancer patients.
Tim Edmonds, CEO of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand and spokesperson for the Blood Cancer Alliance, says the Government has been silent on these commitments to blood cancer patients when discussing how they will deliver the policy.
“Blood cancer patients have been watching and waiting to be remembered. They were told pre-election that they would not be forgotten, and that blood cancer medicines would be considered when delivering on the Government’s funding promises. We are now speaking up on behalf of all blood cancer patients to seek reassurance from Government that these commitments will be honoured.”
“There are more than 21,000 blood cancer patients in New Zealand and the medicines they cannot currently access are life-prolonging and life-saving in many cases. Many have been waiting years for medicines to be funded. We’re grateful that so many haematologists from across the country are joining us to advocate on behalf of blood cancer patients and help ensure they are not left behind” Edmonds said.
Dr Rodger Tiedemann is one of the many Haematologists that co-signed the letter to Government.
“As reported by the Cancer Control Agency, there is a huge gap in the funding of blood cancer medicines in New Zealand, that is at least equal to that of solid tumours. Blood cancer patients have been assured that they would not be forgotten and the cancer medicines plan would include them. As haematologists, we feel compelled to speak up on this important commitment made to our patients that has fallen silent,” Tiedemann said.
The letter concludes with a straightforward request of Government; “As you work on the details for funding and implementing the cancer medicines policy, and consider the imminent blood cancer medicines report, we ask that you honour your pre-election commitment to all cancer patients across New Zealand – specifically including blood cancer patients - so that they are not left behind.”

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