Health Act makes NICE stronger than ever before

Published on Thursday, 17 May 2012 14:58
Posted by Scott Buckler

NICE will be stronger than ever before under the new Health Act producing quality standards that will be the backbone of commissioning and playing a vital role in value based pricing, the Health Secretary has said

Addressing delegates at the NICE Annual Conference in Birmingham yesterday, Andrew Lansley said that NICE will be central to developing a NHS based on evidence and will be placed on a firmer footing to do so.

“NICE is currently established in secondary legislation, as a Special Health Authority. If a future Health Secretary so wished, they could abolish it at the stroke of a pen.

“I feel strongly that NICE deserved more than that. That an organisation as important as NICE should be established in primary legislation and it should have its independence guaranteed.

“For the first time, NICE will be placed on a solid statutory footing, your remit will stretch beyond the NHS to cover social care, both for adults and for children.”

Your reputation for excellence, your experience in engaging with and listening to the people who will ultimately benefit from your guidance means you are well equipped to carry out this new and essential role.

I want the new health and social care system to deliver better quality care, more personalised care, longer, healthier lives and reduced inequalities between the richest and the poorest in our society. In short, I want better outcomes.”

The NICE quality standards will bring common ambition to all parts of the NHS. Not setting out the minimum that we should expect, but the excellence we should strive for.

I published the first quality standards nearly two years ago. There are now 17 Quality Standards and in the coming years there will be as many as 170. Quality Standards should become the backbone of the commissioning system. I know that the NHS Commissioning Board.”

Moving on to the topic of value based pricing, Mr Lansley said that the current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), which expires in January 2014, had worked well and provided stability but had failed effectively to promote the use of new, innovative treatments or increased access to these new treatments.

There will be a successor to the PPRS for existing medicines, for new branded medicines there will be a new system- Value Based Pricing - for agreeing prices. And NICE will be vital to this too.

“As enshrined within the NHS Constitution, the NHS in England will continue to fund existing drugs that have been recommended by NICE. And that right will continue and will apply to new medicines to which VBP applies.

“NICE will examine the evidence on the potential clinical and cost effectiveness of new drugs as they become available; drawing on its world-leading expertise in the field.

“And, importantly, under the new system of VBP, NICE will no longer be obliged to make yes/no decisions on access, based on its own cost per QALY thresholds.

“Instead, you'll be free to focus on the rigorous appraisal of evidence to show the relative benefits of a new medicine.

“There will be price ranges under VBP, reflecting the contributory aspects of value, including the additional therapeutic benefits, the quality of innovation, the response to unmet need, and societal benefits.

The resulting pricing thresholds will be set as part of the VBP pricing mechanism, by Government, rather than by NICE.

“No longer restrained in this way, your appraisals will be even more applicable across the world, cementing further your international reputation.

“Clinicians will always need advice they can trust and depend upon, to make the best decisions for their patients. But through this new system of Value Based Pricing, I hope that those options available to clinicians will include more new and innovative treatments that may not have been available so readily under PPRS.

Paying tribute to the work of NICE, Mr Lansley said that time and again, NICE had proved that it has the people, the skills, the sensitivity and the objectivity to lead the way within the NHS and in public health.

“The decisions you have taken have helped ensure that millions of people get the benefit of the best drugs and technologies, and that their doctors know exactly what the best and latest treatments are,” he said.

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