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The news broke last week that more than 5,000 cancer patients will be denied life-extending drugs under plans which charities say are a ‘dreadful’ step backwards for the NHS.

If, in addition, assisted suicide is legalised in Britain – and Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying (No 2) Bill is to be debated this coming Friday – then it would also leave vulnerable cancer patients being steered toward suicide as a cheaper ‘treatment option’.

The Cancer Drugs Fund was launched in 2011, following a manifesto pledge by David Cameron, who said patients should no longer be denied drugs on cost grounds.

Since its launch four years ago it has benefitted more than 50,000 patients, who received treatment which NHS rationing bodies had refused to pay for.

But now the fund’s budget is massively overspent.

Health officials have just announced sweeping restrictions on treatment, which will mean patients with breast, bowel, skin and pancreatic cancer will no longer be able to receive drugs funded by the NHS.

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