Patients and the public will soon be able to see information on how quickly their local hospitals and primary care organisations are providing NICE-approved treatments and drugs, according to latest government proposals.
From this autumn, every hospital and trust will be rated by an ‘innovation scorecard', allowing patients and the public to see which trusts are adopting the latest NICE-approved treatments and drugs most quickly.
Hospitals and commissioning bodies will also be automatically added onto publicly available lists that show which latest NICE-approved treatments and drugs are available in their local areas.
The Department of Health says that under the scheme, "the NHS will have no excuse not to provide the latest NICE-approved drugs and treatments".
It hopes the proposals will bring an end to ‘postcode prescribing' whereby treatments and drugs are available immediately in some parts of the country, and yet are delayed in others.
The scheme will also see a group set up to help local NHS organisations implement NICE guidelines, in an effort to speed up the update of new drugs and treatments.
The group will help spread information on best practice among organisations in order to improve the speed of uptake.
Health Minister Paul Burstow said: "Patients have a right to drugs and treatments that have been approved by NICE.
"This new regime will be a catalyst for change - we are determined to eradicate variation and drive up standards for everyone.
"NHS organisations must make sure the latest NICE-approved treatments are available in their area, and if they are not, then they will now be responsible for explaining why not.
"Being transparent with data like this is the hallmark of a 21st century NHS. It is a fundamental tool to help healthcare professionals improve patient care."
Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, said that the scorecards "will be valuable not just to patients but also help hospitals assess how well they're performing and ensure that best practice is disseminated across the NHS".
"What we hope is that the scorecard will help rapidly get a consistent response to national guidance," he continued.
Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: "The NHS Innovation Scorecard will be a valuable tool for supporting the use of the latest NICE recommended medicines across England.
"There is still a great deal of variation across the country on which treatments patients are able to access and so I am hopeful the scorecard will help highlight discrepancies which can then be addressed."
He added: "We also welcome other moves to support the use of NICE recommended treatments, such as automatically including medicines on to local medicine availability lists and the creation of a group to help local NHS organisations implement NICE guidelines."
The announcement follows calls by NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson for all NHS organisations to publish information that sets out which NICE technology appraisals are included in their local formularies.