GPs face antibiotic curb
By Daniel Cressey
GPs could face heavy pressure not to use antibiotics for sore throats or ear infections under new NICE plans to re-evaluate existing treatments.
The institute is moving into new territory with a 'disinvestment programme' to identify current areas of care that are not cost effective.
The move follows calls by Sir Liam Donaldson to scrutinise treatments such as tonsillectomies and hysterectomies where the evidence has long been considered suspect.
NICE said it expected to examine use of antibiotics for sore throats and appropriate treatment for ear infections, and controversial therapies such as homoeopathy could also come under the microscope.
The institute will use technology appraisals and clinical guidelines to identify and sideline treatments no longer regarded as cost effective.
Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: 'It's common sense for us to also advise the NHS on when it is appropriate to stop using treatments that don't benefit patients or do not represent good value for money where there are better alternatives available.'
Doctors' groups welcomed some aspects of the proposals but warned there must be no blanket bans.
Dr Sam Everington, deputy chair of the BMA and a GP in Bromley-by-Bow in East London, said: 'We would not want to
see a blanket ban on certain treatments since there may be occasions where individual
patients would necessitate an intervention. Above all, any
decision must be primarily based on clinical evidence, not cost-cutting.'