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Calls for abolition of QALY, Sir Bruce attacks opponents of hospital closures and CMO warns of drug-resistant bacteria epidemic

A roundup of the health news headlines on Friday 25 January

Experts have called for the abolition of the system used by NICE to recommend which drugs should be funded, the BBC reports.

A study funded by the European Commission concluded that the quality-adjusted life years (QALY) formula failed to reflect variations in views on illness and disability.

The European Consortium in Healthcare Outcomes (ECHOUTCOME) researchers will present their findings at a conference in Brussels today.

The study criticised the QALY system for grading different states of health. It said people differ on whether to sacrifice remaining years of life to have better health, with some preferring to die earlier than spend 15 years in a wheelchair, for example.

Project leader Ariel Beresniak, who is a French doctor and economist, said the formula was ‘mathematically flawed’ and ‘produces wrong results. He said: ‘Agencies such as NICE should abandon QALY in favour of other approaches.’

The study recommended systems used in Canada and Australia, which use a cost-benefit approach - such as how many cases of remission a drug can provide, or how many relapses it might prevent.

NICE called the study ‘limited’ and said the measure it used was the best.

Meanwhile, over at the NHS Commissioning Board, medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has called on politicians and doctors to put politics aside and stop fighting hospital changes.

Sir Bruce told the Guardian that failing to embrace change would perpetuate mediocrity.

 ‘Unless we can get to that place where people look at the greater good, which is sometimes in conflict with local interests, then professional, personal and political interests will conspire to perpetuate mediocrity and inhibit the pursuit of excellence to the detriment of our NHS and ultimately our patients,’ he said

He added: ‘Anyone who doesn’t embrace change in a position of power, whether clinician or politician, should be held accountable for the consequences of the NHS failing to deliver the quality of care expected.’

This comes as Pulse today reveals that the mayor of Lewisham is threatening legal action against health secretary Jeremy Hunt if he closes Lewisham A&E.

Finally, the chief medical officer for England has warned that the rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming.

Professor Dame Sally Davies told the Commons’ health select committee that bacteria were becoming resistant to current drugs and there were few antibiotics to replace them, the BBC reports.

Professor Davies said: ‘It is clear that we might not ever see global warming, the apocalyptic scenario is that when I need a new hip in 20 years I’ll die from a routine infection because we’ve run out of antibiotics.’

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