The Victoria Otley Case

Victoria Otley, a 57 year old woman from Essex with advanced bowel cancer, was one of the first patients to contact Bowel Cancer UK about campaigning for treatments, after her PCT had denied her access to the drug Avastin (bevacizumab) for a second time. With the help of the charity, the Pack, lawyers and the media she began to raise awareness of her case. After her exceptionality appeal was turned down, the legal team, with the support of Bowel Cancer UK, decided to take her case to the High Court in June 2007.

The High Court agreed that the PCT had a case to answer and referred the matter to the Royal Courts of Justice as a Judicial Review. On 11th July the case was heard by the Royal Courts
of Justice, with the judge, historically, finding in her favour and quashing the PCT negative ruling. The PCT immediately agreed not to appeal the verdict and to give her the drug Avastin.

High Profile Victory

Victoria Otley's victory generated unprecedented media coverage, both for herself and for Bowel Cancer UK, in national and regional TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. It also helped to put the disease, the charity and the issues surrounding lack of access to treatments firmly on the map.

In addition, Victoria Otley's success has empowered many more patients and carers to contact the charity for help and ask for a copy of The Patient Campaigning Pack. More lawyers have also come on board to lend their support and more clinicians are now referring their patients to the charity for help.


The success of the Victoria Otley case and the Patient Campaigning Pack mean that this area of Bowel Cancer UK's campaigning activity will become an core part of its offering, along with its nurse led Advisory Service and its other information, awareness, education and campaigning services - for as long as it is needed.

It's early days yet, but it is hoped that the Royal Courts of Justice ruling will lead to many more patients, like Victoria Otley, being given treatments that they can benefit from, as PCTs have to be more diligent and less arbitrary in deciding whether patients should get access to treatments.

One of the first patients to
contact Bowel Cancer UK about campaigning for treatments