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GP commissioners to be ranked on compliance with NICE

GP commissioners are to be publically ranked on the access they provide to NICE-approved therapies via an ‘innovation scorecard' due to be published by the Department of Health later this year.

The scorecard will include local data on whether patients have access to treatments approved in NICE technology appraisals as part of the Government's plans to reduce postcode lotteries in care.

The move forms part of a wide-ranging NICE ‘compliance regime' drawn up in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry that will see CCGs bound to strict guidelines over local formularies and providing access to new treatments less than 90 days after NICE approval.

The DH told Pulse it was currently establishing the guiding principles for a new NICE ‘implementation collaborative' and would publish details on the contents and level of data in the innovation scorecard later this year.

But GP commissioning leaders warned the plans could suppress local flexibility, and claimed there could be a ‘conflict of interest' if drug companies were involved in drawing up guidance for CCGs.

Recent NICE decisions such as the approval of dabigatran have demonstrated the difficulties CCG leaders face when expensive new drugs have a large potential patient base and require considerable service redesign.

The current NHS Constitution requires PCTs to give access to NICE-approved drugs, and the Government promised to enforce this more strongly in its ‘Innovation, Health and Wealth' strategy last December.

The DH said it would work with industry, NICE and the NHS Information Centre to establish an innovation scorecard to ‘track adoption of NICE technology appraisals at local level'.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have already begun work with the NHS and industry to assess and explore the different experiences of local formularies, what additional support may be required and to identify and spread best practice.

‘We will publish information on compliance locally through the Innovation Scorecard later this year.'

Dr Michael Dixon, NHS Alliance chair, said: ‘The danger is that we end up with CCGs ranked on how they carry out NICE, and that becomes a new target in itself, and we ratchet up demand in areas where CCGs have decided not to follow NICE.'

‘NICE is very important and useful, but it is not local and it doesn't always have a primary care focus. We need to allow for the different flavours in different populations.'

Dr Charles Alessi, chair of the NAPC, warned the inclusion of pharmaceutical companies in forming guidance was worrying: ‘To say guidance needs to be written by pharmaceutical companies could lead to a position of conflict of interest.'

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