NICE welcomes National Prescribing Centre

From today (1 April), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will take over the functions of the National Prescribing Centre (NPC), the organisation responsible for helping the NHS to optimise its use of medicines.

The NPC's activities will be retained and will become part of a new work programme within NICE's Evidence and Practice Directorate, which is led by NICE Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Gillian Leng.

The merger was approved by the Department of Health last October as part of its plans to restructure the NHS.

Dr Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE said: "The NPC and NICE already share a history of working closely together in helping ensure medicine usage across the NHS is high quality, safe and good value for money. This integration is an exciting opportunity for us to build on the important work that we both do in all aspects of medicines management and will further strengthen access to medicines information through NHS Evidence. I would like to warmly welcome all NPC colleagues into the NICE family."

Neal Maskrey, former Director of Evidence-Based Therapeutics at the NPC and now Programme Director of the NPC at NICE said: "Being part of NICE will provide an even stronger alignment of outputs and expertise.

"Within NICE, we intend that our work programme will continue to help health professionals make the best use of medicines to produce informed and desired outcomes for patients, especially in this changing NHS environment."

The NPC publishes a wide range of resources (including e-learning) and arranges activities and events to support and promote evidence-based medicines management across the NHS, to help improve patient care and service delivery. It was formed in 1996 by the Department of Health. The programme employs 34 people who are based in Liverpool.

Key areas of the NPC's work include:

  • MeReC bulletins, which provides concise, evidence-based information about a variety of medicines and prescribing. These can inform practice, update professional knowledge and support planning.
  • Providing information for health professionals to support the managed introduction of newly licensed or marketed medicines (i.e. where there is not yet NICE guidance).
  • Offering advice and support to non-medical prescribers (e.g. pharmacists, nurses and optometrists), accountable officers for controlled drugs and those supporting local decisions about medicines in line with the NHS Constitution (e.g. individual funding requests).
  • NPC Facilitators - encourages members of prescribing and medicines management teams across the country to interact and share examples of best practice.
  • Publishing reports to support best practice in how medicines are managed. Recent reports cover commissioning, medicines reconciliation (ensuring patients' medication histories are accurate and up to date) and personalising medicines management.


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Notes to Editors

About NICE's NPC work Programme

1. For further information about the NPC, please visit:

2. As part of the merger with NICE, two roles within the NPC's senior management team have ceased to exist. These are the NPC Director of Corporate Affairs and the NPC Chief Executive. These staffing changes have been made so that the NPC's services can be better integrated within NICE's broader management. They follow a staff consultation and have been approved by the Department of Health.

3. Medicines management encompasses the entire way that medicines are selected, procured, delivered, prescribed, administered and reviewed. It hopes to optimise the contribution that medicines make to producing informed and desired outcomes for patients.

About NHS Evidence

1. NHS Evidence is a free and easy-to-use service which provides health and social care professionals with access to quality-assured healthcare information including clinical guidelines, drug information, primary research and systematic reviews. The service was launched in April 2009 and attracts more than half a million unique visitors each month. For further information visit:

About NICE

1. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing evidence-based guidance and advice on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

2. NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments, medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics) and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS

3. NICE produces standards for patient care:

  • quality standards - these reflect the very best in high quality patient care, to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellent services
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the clinical and health improvement indicators in the QOF, the Department of Health scheme which rewards GPs for how well they care for patients

4. NICE provides advice and support on putting NICE guidance and standards into practice through its implementation programme, and it collates and accredits high quality health guidance, research and information to help health professionals deliver the best patient care through NHS Evidence.

This page was last updated: 31 March 2011

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.