13 October 2016

Patients to get faster access to the most cost effective treatments under proposed changes to NICE's process

Patients could benefit from the most cost effective treatments nearly three months faster under plans unveiled by NICE and NHS England.

The proposals are part of a joint consultation by NICE and NHS England that would see the introduction of a ‘fast track’ option for appraising technologies which offer exceptional value for money.

This would mean treatments that are likely to have a cost per QALY (quality adjusted life year) of up to £10,000 would be dealt with more quickly under a ‘lighter touch’ process

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: “We want to be more agile and flexible in the way we make decisions about new drugs, medical devices and diagnostics, so that patients can get access to them more quickly and the NHS can manage its resources fairly and efficiently. NICE and NHS England have worked together to develop these proposals.

“The pace and scale of innovation in the NHS require NICE and NHS England to collaborate closely to ensure patients are benefiting from faster access to the most cost effective treatments

“By further streamlining our processes we will ensure treatments that clearly offer exceptional value for money will be available to the patients who need them faster than ever before.

“Where the introduction of a new treatment places a large, immediate demand on NHS budgets, the impact of their introduction on other services has to be taken into account in managing their adoption.

“NICE and NHS England believe these proposals represent a fair approach to the significant challenge of providing faster access to innovative, cost effective treatments alongside the need to safeguard future financial sustainability. I would urge anyone with an interest in these issues to let us have their views before the consultation closes on 13 January 2017.”

NICE and NHS England are also consulting on a proposal to introduce a cost effectiveness level of £100,000 per QALY for NICE’s Highly Specialised Technologies (HST) programme.

The programme, which looks at treatments for very rare diseases that are commissioned nationally by NHS England, currently does not have a cost effectiveness level.

The proposed level is five times the usual cost effectiveness level used by NICE. Drugs that exceed the level will still be considered for funding by NHS England when prioritised alongside other drugs and treatments for rare conditions.

NICE and NHS England believe these proposals represent a fair approach to the significant challenge of providing faster access to innovative, cost effective treatments alongside the need to safeguard

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive