"We are absolutely delighted that NHS England are moving to reconsider their position on PrEP. METRO has been clear from the very start of the process that PrEP is a vital tool in the battle against HIV.
"We must not become complacent, as METRO and our partners, including National AIDS Trust welcome this prospect of a better outcome, we must maintain pressure to ensure a genuine reconsideration.", Dr Greg Ussher, METRO CEO.
On 21 March, NHS England announced it was pulling the plug on its decision-making process on whether to make PrEP available (an HIV prevention drug, proven to be effective in stopping HIV transmission in almost every case if taken properly). This was after 18 months of hard work which demonstrated the need, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of PrEP from an NHS working group comprising experts from across the HIV sector.
The National AIDS Trust decided it had a strong legal case to challenge this decision with representation from Deighton Pierce Glynn. NAT began legal action on 12 April and yesterday the HIV charity received a response from NHS England stating that 'NHS England will carefully consider its position on commissioning PrEP in light of [NAT's] representations'.
NHS England will now meet in May to decide whether to put PrEP back into the decision-making process from which it had previously been removed. If it goes back into the process there will be a Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (CPAG) meeting in June to decide on what NHS England will commission in 2016/2017, and PrEP will be considered alongside other proposals.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT, said: "We welcome this change of mind from NHS England. NHS England had previously told us that it was impossible for them to reconsider their decision. Faced with legal action, they have now changed their mind. We trust that NHS England, when it re-evaluates its position, will come back with a resounding yes.
"PrEP is one of the most exciting prevention options to emerge since the HIV epidemic began and offers the prospect of real success in combatting this virus. To deny the proper process to decide whether to commission PrEP, when 17 people are being diagnosed with HIV every day, is not only morally wrong but legally wrong also."
You can read the letter sent from NAT to NHS England here.
Joe - Mentoring
The programme had such an impact on my life that I decided to come on board as a volunteer mentor!
Ebere - First Point
I wish this service was around when I was newly diagnosed. I felt my world had fallen apart around me and I didn't know which way to turn for support. You are offering a very valuable service.
Michael - Counselling
I gained a huge amount of help from the counselling service and would like to thank the service for offering so much support.
Peter- First Point
I felt so relieved to have a named First Point worker who I can call if I need to be referred to a particular service.
Abimbola- First Point
It has been a long time since I felt that someone actually listened to me.
Kwasi - Mentoring
During the 6 month programme, I developed a close relationship with my mentor. Knowing that I would have to talk to him honestly about what I did in the previous 2 weeks somehow forced me to be safe every time I had an encounter.
Sarah - Counselling
The help and understanding I experienced from everyone I came into contact with whilst using the Metroís services was amazing.
Joan - First Point
Thank you so much for taking time to listen to me and truly understand how I am feeling. This is the only appointment I've had regarding HIV that didnít feel rushed.
David - Counselling
Outstanding people. Outstanding service. Outstanding counselling. Truly something that has allowed me to turn my life around.
Simon - Mentoring
By discussing things at such an intimate level with my mentor, I really came face to face with some of the reasons why I was taking chances before.