Drug rationing scorecard criticised by GPs

Ranking clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) on their uptake of NICE-backed drugs is an unhelpful distraction and will create problems for GPs involved in commissioning, the RCGP and GPC have warned.

Professor Clare Gerada: sceptical about plans (Photograph: Pete Hill)
Professor Clare Gerada: sceptical about plans (Photograph: Pete Hill)

As GP revealed last month, PCTs and CCGs will have to publish lists of NICE-approved drugs included on lists of treatments that cannot be prescribed locally.

Last week, the DH said the NHS would also publish 'innovation scorecards', so NHS bodies could be ranked by how quickly they allow access to NICE-approved drugs.

But RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada was sceptical about the plans. She said NICE advice focused on individual diseases, not the complex patients GPs see, and patients can end up 'overtreated' when diseases are treated in isolation.

'While it's important that we follow best practice, we need to be allowed to do things if we know they're in the best interests of patients.' Professor Gerada also said the DH should promote GPs' professionalism, rather than 'monitoring everything that can be monitored'.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said a scorecard would only be helpful if the NHS had the resources to fund every drug NICE recommended.

'All it is going to indicate is which CCGs have the funding available,' he said.

PCTs had not been able to fund NICE-approved drugs because they did not have enough money, not because they had chosen not to, he said.

'It is disingenuous of the NHS Commissioning Board to suggest that CCGs can provide every drug NICE recommends,' he said.

Dr Vautrey also warned that pressure to increase the use of new drugs would lead to a conflict 'between being a commissioner and being a GP'.

The DH has also told CCGs to start working with PCT pharmacy leads to remove any drugs recommended by NICE from local treatment blacklists.

Moves to improve access to new medicines come in the wake of a GP investigation last year that found that one PCT in four was blacklisting drugs recommended by NICE (GP, 25 November 2011).

Following GP's investigation, health secretary Andrew Lansley said NHS trusts would be forced to make NICE-approved drugs available.

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