Cancer campaigner must use last of savings for fourth operation

Oxford Mail: Clive Stone Clive Stone

CANCER campaigner Clive Stone is facing a fourth life-saving operation to remove a brain tumour and will have to use his savings to pay for it.

Father-of-two Mr Stone, 65, who lives in Eynsham near Oxford, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2007 and won a battle with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to get it to approve NHS use of the life-extending drug Sunitinib.

But the cancer spread to his brain and he needed gamma knife radiosurgery, a procedure not routinely funded by NHS Oxfordshire.

The trust funded two radiosurgery operations for Mr Stone in May and December in 2011, but he had to pay about £15,000 for a third operation to remove a tumour in June last year, and now will have to pay again for the fourth operation in Sheffield.

The former bank manager, who was awarded an MBE for his campaigning, said: “I need an operation now and it will wipe out most of my savings. I had to pay last year and the criteria set by the PCT have not changed.

“I have paid my taxes all my life and think the gamma knife radiosurgery should be free to everyone on the NHS.

“I get phone calls from patients around the country wanting my help and advice, and the longer I am here the longer I can help others.

“I had an email from staff at the hospital in Sheffield last Monday saying I had been turned down for the funding, and on Thursday I received a copy of a letter from the PCT to my consultant in Sheffield which confirmed this.”

Mr Stone will have to pay for the operation, despite Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron announcing last year a £15m Cancer Radiotherapy Innovation Fund, to make radiotherapy treatment more widely available.

The aim is to provide nearly 8,000 more cancer patients with access to Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy, which targets a tumour with more precise doses of radiation, while minimising the damage done to surrounding healthy tissue.

Among these patients are those – like Mr Stone – with brain tumours which need gamma knife surgery, otherwise known as stereotactic radiosurgery.

Mr Stone hopes to have the operation within days.

Cancer Research UK spokesman Simon Shears said the £15m fund was being distributed at the moment, and added that patients should start to see the benefits from March or April.

Mr Stone, who has taken up astronomy to take his mind off his cancer battle, now lives alone following the death of wife Jan, 61, from breast cancer in 2011.

A spokesman for NHS Oxfordshire said stereotactic radiosurgery was now available as a matter of routine for Oxfordshire patients whose clinical condition met specified criteria.

The criteria for eligibility for funding include patients having “no evidence of active malignant disease elsewhere”, and for patients to have had no previous stereotactic radiosurgery, which would rule Mr Stone out.

She added that if a patient’s condition could not be treated routinely under the terms of the policy, the primary care trust would consider an individual funding request.

The spokesman said: “We understand that the Cancer Radiotherapy Innovation Fund is about developing a service.

“It is not a fund from which PCTs or clinicians can seek funding in respect of individual patients.”

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