National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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NHS to undergo radical reforms
The White Paper ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’, published yesterday, states that given the increasing importance of coherent joint arrangements between health and social care, NICE will now extend its remit to social care.
The Paper also places NICE on a firmer statutory footing securing its independence and core functions, in addition to its new role in developing social care standards.
Earlier this month, NICE launched the first three quality standards covering the treatment and care of stroke, dementia and venous-thromboembolism (VTE) prevention. Eventually some 150 clinical areas will have their own set of standards, which will outline the vision of what high-quality care should look like on the NHS.
Under the White Paper proposals, these quality standards will play a key role in informing the commissioning of all NHS care and payment systems, and will be reflected in the development of a new NHS Outcomes Framework.
The current NHS performance regime will be replaced with separate frameworks for outcomes that set direction for the NHS, for public health and social care, which will provide for clear and unambiguous accountability, and enable better joint working.
The NHS Outcomes Framework will also be translated into a commissioning outcomes framework for GP consortia, who will take on the commissioning responsibilities from primary care trusts (PCTs).
This move will lead to the phasing out of all 10 strategic health authorities and the 152 PCTs across England by 2013.
GP consortia will then agree local priorities for implementation each year, taking account of the NHS Outcome Framework.
Speaking at the launch of the White Paper in Whitehall, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS, praised NICE for the work it has done on producing quality standards adding that NICE has a very good reputation for the methodologies that they bring to this process.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said that the White Paper offered up a “very exciting vision of how we can improve health outcomes for patients”.
“The NHS is our priority. That is why the Coalition Government has committed to increases in NHS resources in real terms each year of this Parliament. The sick must not pay for the debt crisis left by the previous administration. But the NHS is a priority for reform too. Investment has not been matched by reform. So we will reform the NHS to use those resources far more effectively for the benefit of patients.
“The Government’s ambition is for health outcomes - and quality services - that are among the best in the world. We have in our sights a unique combination of equity and excellence.
“With patients empowered to share in decisions about their care, with professionals free to tailor services around their patients and with a relentless focus on continuously improving results, I am confident that together we can deliver the efficiency and the improvement in quality that is required to make the NHS a truly world class service.”
Under the plans, patients will be given access to the information that they want, to make choices about their care. This data is expected to be published on the NHS Choices website and will allow patients choice of GP practice and choice of treatment. Patients will also be able to rate hospitals and clinical departments according to the quality they receive.
Drug companies will be paid according to the value of new medicines, to promote innovation, ensure better access for patients to effective drugs and improve value for money. A new Cancer Drug Fund will be up and running from April next year, and will support patients to get the drugs their doctors recommend.