NHS England has now over-ruled the letter, which was obtained by Labour. It has announced it will be writing to area teams to clarify it’s decision.
Cancer Research UK said the NHS ‘had to keep its side of the bargain’. In the part, the NHS would cover costs for patients taking part in trials however recent financial pressures had led to the NHS to change it’s mind.
The letter stated: ‘I am sure you will appreciate that in the current financial climate, the primary call for resources is to support clinical service provision for established service priorities.
‘To this end, the NHS England London Region Area Team is unable to identify any uncommitted resources which could be used to support ETCs for clinical trials.
‘This is the national position which is being adopted, in respect of all current requests for ETCs.’
Labour’s health secretary referred to the withdrawal of the letter as a ‘U-turn’.
He continued, ‘This was announced as a new national policy to be rolled out and we are not convinced that this is simply an inaccurate letter.
‘[Health Secretary] Jeremy Hunt must make a full statement to clarify what has happened.’
Mr Burnham said the letter “indicates the growing financial crisis in the NHS’.
He described the episode as ‘shambolic’, and it was clear that the NHS needed more money.
Cancer Research UK, which is supporting 35,000 patients who are involved in drug trials expressed that they have concerns. Leaders worry that if the NHS pulls out of providing funding for their cause, they will be unable to do their work.