Weakening NICE's role will make NHS less efficient

Widening NICE's role risks emasculating the organisation and introducing inefficiency in the NHS, a leading health economist has warned.

The DoH revealed in September that NICE’s role will move away from deciding on whether drugs should be given NHS funding to offering advice on treatment effectiveness.

Professor Adrian Towse, director of the Office of Health Economics, said NICE must change practice and not end up as a ‘library’ of good advice.

A Westminster Health Forum event last month, he said: ‘As NICE is changing and expanding its role, the most important thing is that we do not turn NICE into a library.’

‘If that is all that NICE is, we’re going to lose an awful lot of efficiency,’ he said.

He added: ‘The worst possibly outcome would be that we spent all the effort in getting the evidence, making the recommendations and it doesn’t change how the NHS operates.’

Professor Towse also said it was unclear whether the mandate on PCTs to implement NICE’s technology assessments would remain, even though this had a ‘dramatic’ effect on uptake.

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