At Prime Minister’s Question Time today in the House of Commons, Michael
Fabricant raised the case of his constituent, Councillor Tony Lanchester,
with Tony Blair. Tony Lanchester, a former Labour Leader of Lichfield
District Council, suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Michael Fabricant
told the Prime Minister that three-quarters of a million people suffer from
this crippling and painful disease, but he drew the attention of Tony Blair
to the particular problems faced by Councillor Lanchester; problems which
are repeated up and down the country.
Tony Lanchester is being treated at Cannock Hospital. The South
Staffordshire Health Authority will not pay for drugs that he urgently
needs. Meanwhile, other patients from Sutton Coldfield and other health
authorities being treated in the same hospital for the same condition are
receiving the drugs. Michael Fabricant asked when such "postcode
prescribing" will end.
The Prime Minister replied that the Government is taking steps to alleviate
this problem. [The full text of Mr Fabricant’s question and the Prime
Minister’s reply will be available tomorrow when Hansard is available].
Michael Fabricant says "This problem arose when GP Fundholding was
abolished by this Labour Government. Although Tony Blair undoubtedly cares
about this problem and recognises how widespread it has become, it is no
good his blaming the previous Government. He has been in office now for
four and half years and the problem which Labour caused refuses to go away.
My question highlights the anguish faced by sufferers of rheumatoid
arthritis in this country. I hope that the South Staffordshire Health
Authority will now provide the drugs that Tony Lanchester so desperately