A letter to strategic health authority (SHA) medical directors from Sir Bruce Keogh has led to allegations that the Department of Health has reneged on its pledge to provide extra money for cancer drugs via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Whilst the Coalition’s programme for Government stated that the fund would be paid for using money saved through the Government’s pledge to stop the rise in employer national insurance contributions from April 2011, and the department’s October consultation on the fund said that the money was “intended to be additional to that already included in PCT allocations”, Sir Bruce makes it clear that, for 2011–12, the first £200 million will be funded in large part through a “non-recurrent claw back of £140 million nationally from PCT allocations to fund SHA level budgets of the same value”. The remaining £60 million will be provided from funds held centrally by the department.

The Director of the PCT Network, David Stout, warns that the move will have a material impact on commissioning budgets next year, with PCTs finding the fund costing them £1 million each over the 2011–12 period; money that will have to be found from savings elsewhere.

The department put forward a spokesman in response, who said: “we have made £200 million additional funding available to support the cancer drugs fund… technical details on the administration of the fund in 2011–12 were set out in Sir Bruce’s letter. Funding in 2011–12 is additional funding within PCT allocations”.