HEALTH Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given his backing to an Usk cancer patient fighting for fairer access to treatment.
Mr Hunt, who oversees the NHS in England, was on the campaign trail in Monmouthshire last week.
During a visit to Usk Conservative Club, he met 76 year-old Ann Wilkinson. She has been diagnosed with bowel cancer and battled to obtain the life-prolonging drug Avastin – which is available to patients in England – after a funding application was turned down by Aneurin Bevan Health Board.
The Labour-led Welsh Government has a “fundamental misunderstanding” about the NHS in Wales, said Mr Hunt.
“The reason I’ve talked about the Welsh Government is that in the House of Commons Ed Miliband is constantly saying only Labour know how to run the NHS and he’s completely ignoring what’s happening in a country run by Labour,” he said.
“Labour have got a fundamental misunderstanding about the NHS. They think that if everyone can have access to an NHS hospital or GP it’s enough, because before you couldn’t.
“But actually for me, the point of the NHS isn’t that everyone can get to see a doctor: it’s that you get good quality healthcare.”
Mrs Wilkinson is being supported by family friend and Usk author Julie McGowan, who set up a petition calling for cancer patients in Wales to get the same treatment as those in England. It was signed by nearly 100,000 people and presented to 10 Downing Street in November alongside fellow supporters from the One Voice for Wales campaign.
The same petition was delivered to Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay earlier that month. Labour politicians refused to accept it or meet with campaigners, with Health Minister Mark Drakeford telling AMs the Welsh Government has “no intention” of creating a Cancer Drugs Fund.
Such a fund was set up in England in 2010 and is currently worth £280m a year.
Mrs McGowan said:
“The problem is that because the Welsh Government won’t listen to any petition verbally or written, or any move we make, it’s difficult to know what to do next.”
David Davies, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Monmouth, said the campaign will continue and “fighting for our Welsh NHS” remains one of his top priorities.