NHS England has said cancer patients should be able to get faster access to innovative drugs under a new system.
The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was historically used to pay for medicines considered too expensive for the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). However, the scheme has been criticised and there will now be a new system introduced in July 2016.
First established in 2011, the CDF had an initial budget of £200 million, but in 2015 the cost of the fund rose to £340 million.
With a budget of £340 million, it is hoped the new initiative will enable faster access for cancer patients. Under the new scheme, NICE will make all the decisions, hopefully speeding up the entire process.
When a drug is released onto the market, it will be up to NICE to approve it or give it a rating. If the medicine is permitted by the health watchdog it will then be offered across the NHS, while those given a positive rating can be considered by the CDF.
A clear criteria will be set up to ensure that money is only spent on the best innovative drugs.
Bruce Keogh, medical director at NHS England, said: "Improving cancer care is an absolute priority for NHS England... that is dependent on access to treatments."
He said the amended CDF will allow patients to have faster access to the drugs they need, while it will also bring clarity to which drugs are the most effective sooner than is currently possible.
An NHS official said: "Drug companies will need to price their drugs responsibly, and we make no apology for maintaining the pressure on this point on behalf of the public."
Find the nearest Barchester care home.