PCTs need 'non-negotiable duty' to stick to NICE advice

PCTs should have a 'non-negotiable' duty to implement NICE guidance, an NHS Confederation director has argued.

Depression services will be cut (©istockphoto.com/ Rachael Rush)
Depression services will be cut (©istockphoto.com/ Rachael Rush)

Steve Shrubb, director of the NHS Confederation's mental health network, raised the issue at a Depression Alliance event on commissioning services for depression and anxiety.

He said implementation of NICE guidelines should be mandatory in the same way that technology appraisals are. 'We know what works,' he said.

'We know how to deliver it. We know what it does if you do it properly. We know how much money you save.

There are some really key messages that we now need to repeat in a very non-negotiable way.'

Mr Shrubb said a recent DoH meeting about quality, innovation, productivity and prevention he attended had shown there was now agreement about how depression needed to be tackled.

'Two years ago, there might have been some debate around the edges,' he said. 'But there was no debate. It was very clear that in the treatment of depression, using the evidence base is what you should do.

'We're moving into a different order of debate,' he added.

Now, he said, NICE guidelines needed to be made mandatory. 'It would be good if PCTs had a non-negotiable duty to implement NICE guidance,' he said.

Patients with psychological conditions should expect the same quality of treatment as those with other conditions, he argued.

But he warned that even though there was now cross-party support for improving access to cognitive behavioural therapy, depression services would still be affected by cuts.

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