Shaping NICE's agenda to support a cost effective NHS
An ageing population and the increasing cost of healthcare already present a challenge to the NHS. Predictions that it will lose £8-10 billion from its budget in real terms, from 2011, will make it even harder.
As NHS service providers look to balance budgets, we will be helping them make best use of limited resources. Since 2005/06, our advice has already, in theory, saved the NHS several million pounds.
This estimate does not include longer-term savings that will come from our public health guidance, which gives advice on preventing disease and helping people to live healthier lifestyles.
These were key messages to a NICE workshop on productivity and quality which was held in September and attended by commissioners and other frontline NHS staff with financial responsibilities.
The idea was to explain how we are helping to improve NHS productivity and the quality of its service. The workshop was also an opportunity for those directly involved in local commissioning to tell NICE what changes in current practice and procedures they would like to see.
A key finding was that they were not aware of our full range of activities. Concerns were also raised about our work programme: there was a sense that it does not place sufficient emphasis on ending established practices that are ineffective.
Workshop participants also said that we needed to improve the way we communicate our advice. In response, we have already created a new section on our website that outlines the various ways we can help the NHS and the wider healthcare community make savings.
The new section includes a list of guidance, which, when implemented will generate net cost savings. It also includes a range of tools that can be used to estimate the local cost of implementing our guidance.
For the future, we will encourage stakeholders to submit ideas for guidance on procedures or drugs that they feel the NHS could stop using - and which may lead to savings. In addition, a range of new initiatives will improve how we identify 'quality and productivity' opportunities during the development of all our guidance.
These opportunities, delegates were told, will be more clearly highlighted in the resulting guidance itself, as well as being publicised separately on our website.
Workshop participants agreed that NICE needs to improve its work with staff in the NHS to ensure they take up these opportunities - and we will be examining how we can ensure our implementation activities and tools do just that.
Participants' responses to the range of questions posed during the workshop will be discussed by the NICE Board and used as the basis for a number of new initiatives.
Issued: 14 December 2009
This page was last updated: 29 April 2010