MPs welcome NICE's move into social care
NICE's move into social care has been welcomed by the House of Commons Health Select Committee, following an inquiry into the work of the Institute.
The experience of care for too many patients is fragmented between the NHS and social care, and the government believes that NICE can play a key role in helping to integrate the two to drive up the quality of patient care.
From April 2013, NICE will start producing guidance and quality standards in relation to social care, and to reflect this the Institute will become known as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
The Health Select Committee report has welcomed the fact that NICE is to take on responsibility for producing clinical guidance and quality standards in relation to social care and believes that there is a real opportunity for NICE to help evolve a different model of care by creating integrated standards and clinical guidance.
The MPs say that this should not just be about providing guidance to people in different disciplines who are treating and caring for people with a specific condition, but should also involve advising about the most common associated co-morbidities, including mental illness. The guidance will also need to take account of what individuals want for themselves.
The inquiry into the work of NICE examined how it has discharged its current functions and the changes to its role that will come into effect from April this year. The Committee took the opportunity to look at NICE's work as part of its pre-appointment scrutiny of NICE's new Chair. Professor David Haslam, who will replace the current Chair Sir Mike Rawlins in April this year.
Elsewhere in its report, the Committee recommended that NICE maintains its credibility by making sure that patients are effectively and openly represented in all of its work.
MPs also recommended that NICE's clinical guidelines should continue to be guidance rather than an instruction and that the NHS should continue to allow local discretion and individual judgments of doctors and patients, but that variations from NICE guidance should be open, transparent and accountable. The government has already commtted to ensuring that the funding directive for NICE's technology appraisals, which mandate the NHS to prpvide treatments recommended by NICE within three months, will continue to apply.
Concern was expressed by MPs over open access to clinical trials data, with the Committee calling for a professional and legal obligation to ensure that all regulators, including NICE, have access to all available research data about the efficacy and safety of pharmaceutical products which are in use in the UK.
The report also called for the issue of value based pricing to be resolved by March 2013, and for an analysis of the outcomes of patients receiving treatment through the Cancer Drugs Fund in order to assess the impact of the scheme.
Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, said: “We welcome the Committee's support for our new work in social care and the opportunity it gives to support the better integration of social and health care.
“We recognise the importance of engaging effectively with our stakeholders, in social care and in our other programmes and we will work with them to develop and improve our approach.
“We work very hard to make sure that we have all the evidence necessary to produce robust guidance. We will support any efforts that reduce the risk that important information about the technologies and practices we review may not, in individual cases be being made available.”
Mr Mike Farrar, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, added: "Giving NICE responsibility for producing evidence-based guidance on social care and integrated care provides a major opportunity to improve the care that people receive.”
16 January 2013