NICE reveals commissioning blueprint

NICE has unveiled nine best practice standards on which GPs will have to base commissioning decisions.

Dr Karet: ‘Do we really need yet more NICE guidelines?’ (Photograph: UNP)
Dr Karet: ‘Do we really need yet more NICE guidelines?’ (Photograph: UNP)

The standards will also be used to assess GPs' and other NHS providers' performance and to determine levels of pay.

Click here for the full details of NICE's best practice standards

The White Paper Liberating the NHS said all NHS commissioning would have to be based on NICE quality standards and that pay and inspection would be based on these.

But until last week, just three of the intended 150 standards had been produced.

NICE has now revealed the next nine topics, giving a far clearer view of what the system will look like.

The nine quality standards will cover diabetes (type-1 and type-2), COPD, heart failure, kidney disease, depression, end-of-life care, breast cancer, alcohol dependence and glaucoma. These will complement standards covering stroke, dementia and venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention which were published last month.

Many of the topics overlap with QOF targets, but NICE has said the quality standards will not supersede current indicators.

'Although quality standards may cover clinical and health improvement topics included in QOF, they are intended to supplement, not replace, current QOF indicators,' a NICE spokeswoman said.

GPC member Dr Bill Beeby welcomed the standards.

But he warned it was unclear how GP commissioners would manage to meet them when current arrangements had failed to.

RCGP clinical lead for diabetes Dr Brian Karet said that guidance on services for people with type-1 diabetes could be helpful to commissioners.

But he questioned the need for another guideline on commissioning type-2 diabetes services. 'There's loads of stuff already out there,' he said. 'It is ridiculous that we have to have so many guidelines. Do we really need another one? Is anyone going to take any notice of it?'

The quality standards 'are intended to provide a clear description in around five to 10 statements of what a high quality service would look like', NICE said.

The standards could also 'be used for clinical audit and governance reports as well as in professional development'.

Quality Standards

Already published:

  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • VTE prevention

Due for development:

  • Diabetes (type-1 and type-2)
  • COPD
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Depression
  • End-of-life care
  • Breast cancer
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Glaucoma

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