A GRANDMOTHER who desperately needs a revolutionary cancer treatment is being denied it by NHS Barnet.

The woman, who does not want to be identified for fear of upsetting her family, has myeloma, a rare cancer of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow.

She said doctors have told her she urgently needs the drug Revlimid, or lenalidomide, to slow the progress of her incurable illness.

The woman is experiencing her fourth relapse, but has been told by NHS Barnet she will have to wait until the end of next month before she will be considered for the treatment. This is despite the drug being approved for use by patients in June by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

“Barnet is saying I have to wait from now until the end of September and I am just hoping my condition doesn’t get worse,” said the mother-of-two who is in her 50s and has tried two other therapies for her illness.

She is one of at least three myeloma patients in the borough in the same position.

She said: “This is my best hope because the only other option is a bone marrow transplant.”

Primary care trusts, of which NHS Barnet is one, have three months to implement new NICE guidance but the charity Myeloma UK said that many implemented it much earlier as the clearance was long expected.

The woman has been waiting for her case to be reviewed since June 8, and says NHS Barnet is neglecting its duty of care by not looking into her request for exceptional funding.

She said it would need very good clinical reasons to continue to refuse funding and is worried any delay in treatment would be detrimental and could lead to other complications.

She said: “They are not looking at me as an actual person. It will be on their head if I become disabled. If there are long-term complications, the long-term care is going to cost more than the treatment.

“They are putting people’s lives at risk and it is not morally right. They are soulless. They seem to have no heart about it.”

Eric Low, Myeloma UK chief executive branded the delay “utterly irresponsible”. He said: “This is probably the worst example of PCT commissioning we have ever come across and it is having a devastating impact on the myeloma patients concerned.

“NHS Barnet has a responsibility to all patients, including myeloma patients, to make timely decisions on individual cases but appear to be ignoring requests for a drug that will halt the progression of an aggressive cancer.”

Dr Andrew Burnett, NHS Barnet’s medical director, said the trust was identifying what savings could be made from its current health care expenditure to fund the treatment — an estimated £800,000 each year.

He said: “We appreciate that someone being ill is stressful and a great worry for both them and their families and that what may seem to be a complex bureaucratic process concerning their treatment is not something they would wish to have to deal with. “However, NHS Barnet is responsible for the health and healthcare of all people registered with Barnet GPs — some 350,000 people — and seeks to use the resources made available in the fairest way for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of people.”