Many women who are suffering from breast cancer in Bristol are anxiously awaiting the outcome of a meeting within North Bristol Primary Care Trust. The meeting, which is to be held on 21st December, has been called specifically to decide whether they will receive the life saving drug Herceptin.

The special meeting of the Trust’s Exceptional Funding Panel has been called due to the number of applications for Herceptin received by Oncologists for patients who have a clinical need for the drug.

One such patient, Elisabeth Cooke, a grandmother and nurse from Southmeade, Bristol has been calling on the Trust to provide her with this treatment. She said, “I have been told by my consultant that I need this treatment from 5th January 2006 and that I cannot wait any longer. Women in other parts of the country who are in a similar position have been given Herceptin treatment. It is a proven life-saver. I am appalled that this treatment is not available as of right. I have given decades of my life to the NHS and to caring for others but in my hour of need I am not being given this treatment.”

Ms Cooke, who is represented by Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff through her Trades Union, UNISON, has provided instructions to apply for a High Court Judicial Review if she is not given the treatment.

John Watkins of Thompsons Solicitors said, “This is a drug that is needed by many women who are suffering from breast cancer today. The Department of Health has announced that it will be made widely available next summer for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer after 1st October 2005. However, this leaves an enormous pool of patients who were diagnosed before that time and who cannot wait until the summer without this life saving treatment.”

Ms Cooke is available for interview.