The patients' group Health Equality for All (HEAL) emerged out of a grassroots community campaign to improve Bailiwick residents' access to drugs, treatments and medicines. In this Opinion piece, HEAL calls on the States' Committee for Health & Social Care to start a big conversation with the community about the future of healthcare in the Bailiwick.
"How will the Committee for Health and Social Care engage and consult with our community on a wide range of critical health-related work streams prioritised as part of the Government Work Plan in 2022?
As we approach the second anniversary of one of the most significant people-powered health policy changes approved by States in recent years, patient group Health Equality for All (HEAL) would like islanders and especially deputies to reflect on why the Review of Drugs, Treatment & Devices (National Institute for Health Care Excellence Technology Appraisals, better known as NICE TAs) was necessary and so important to health outcomes for thousands of islanders.
The adoption of NICE TAs was highly emotive for many islanders, fundamentally improving their quality of life, a key part of our economic puzzle.
Pictured: The two Peters - Deputies Roffey (left) and Ferbrache (right) - were among seven deputies who submitted a Requête in 2018 which made initial progress on improving the range of drugs, medicines and treatments available to Bailiwick residents.
Access for all to a high-quality health service is critical to how we age well and crucially whether we remain economically active, productive and independent, supporting a healthy and vibrant local economy.
How will this policy be integrated into the existing commitments within the Committee for Health & Social Care's Partnership of Purpose: Transforming Bailiwick Health Care?
After a delayed start and many challenges, the Committee for Health & Social Care recently confirmed that implementation of NICE TAs is now in a steady state with the backlog of drugs and treatments highlighted by the 2019 Review now largely dealt with (by their addition to the White List).
Work is also progressing well as we move towards year two implementation with a further expansion of available treatments that will benefit many more patients, in particular those with a cancer diagnosis. However, HEAL were advised that uptake of NICE TAs had been lower than expected with costs also less than expected.
Whilst it was unclear as to why the uptake of NICE TAs has been modest, HEAL was assured that current clinical and patient need was being met, and that there were no concerns over funding for year two.
Pictured: The patients' group HEAL wants the Committee for Health & Social Care - the members of which are pictured above - to prompt a big conversation with the community about what sort of healthcare the Bailiwick wants and is prepared to pay for.
Therefore, what can Guernsey expect at the end of this year, the end of year two?
Should we be anticipating further progress towards closing our treatment gap with the NHS so that all treatments will eventually become available, paid for by the States, for all islanders?
Before this can happen, the States require the Committee for Health & Social Care to present a review of the impact of NICE TAs on the health outcomes of islanders and proposals for long-term funding options.
What are the hopes and aspirations of Guernsey people, what level of health services are we prepared to pay for with our taxes?
With the advent of more personalised medicine and increases in genetic screening, should we also consider providing these more expensive services for rarer conditions and cancers?
The Tax Review is due back before the States this summer and these questions, amongst many others, have to be answered.
Pictured: Mike Read has been a leading figure in the success of patients' group HEAL.
Which brings us back to the question we posed in our first sentence.
How will the Committee for Health & Social Care engage in discussion about the expectations of our island community?
HEAL believe that discussion is vital. Let us begin now."
Health Equality for All (HEAL).