A £50m funding boost for the NHS will improve access to innovative cancer drugs, according to UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The news follows a report by the national cancer director, Professor Sir Mike Richards, which found that the UK’s uptake of new drugs falls behind other European countries. The increased funding starts in October to rectify this.

The funding precedes the Cancer Drugs Fund, due to commence in April 2011. Doctors will be put in charge of deciding how it is spent for local patients based on advice from cancer specialists.

“Patients should have access to innovative cancer drugs that can extend or improve their quality of life and which their doctors have recommended. This funding will help to ensure that this happens,” said Lansley.