Advising with empathy and experience

Woman cancer patient wins court battle for surgery.


A woman cancer patient has won her case after taking health managers to court after they twice refused to pay for her surgery.

Maria Wallpott, of Pontllanfraith, Caerphilly county, Wales, had stage four appendix cancer which had spread to her ovaries.

She went to court after funding for her treatment was refused by Aneurin Bevan Health Board and the Welsh Health Specialist Services Committee.

Ms Wallpott, who said she was relieved the court had found in her favour, added: "I want to live to see my children graduate, fall in love, and have their own children, is that too much to ask?"

The £73,000 treatment is automatically available to patients in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland but is granted only in exceptional circumstances in Wales.

The court heard the procedure is said to result in patients having a 40% chance of surviving for five years.

In her judgment at the High Court, Cardiff, Mrs Justice Steyn, found the panel's decision was unlawful.

During a two-day hearing, health board lawyers argued the decision by Welsh Individual Patients Funding Requests (IPFR) was correct and mother-of-two Ms Wallpott, 50, did not meet the criteria.

They said there was a lack of evidence to show it would help her and would "not be cost-effective.”

However, Vikram Sachdeva QC, representing Ms Wallpott, argued the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidance said the procedure could benefit those with his client's condition. It could potentially save Maria Wallpott’s life, or, at least, improve it.

He said: "Patients are entitled to a lawful decision-making process, especially when these decisions could mean the difference between life or death."

After the hearing, Ms Wallpott said: "The IPFR panel, made up of non-experts in my condition, forgot they were dealing with a human being, not hypothetical case studies.

"I still, however, need the IPFR panel to do the right thing and give me a chance of surviving this cancer."

The WHSSC, a joint committee, comprising the seven local health boards in Wales, said decisions on services were based on reviewing evidence of clinical and cost-effectiveness.

It could not comment on individual cases but would "reflect on the court's judgment and take the appropriate actions.