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NICE 'will not discriminate against self-inflicted illness'

NICE has said it will not discriminate against those with self-inflicted health problems ­ but will take self-inflicted illness into account if it affects the success of treatment.

'NICE and its advisory bodies should avoid denying care to patients with conditions that are, or may be, self-inflicted ­ in part or in whole,' the institute said in its much-anticipated report.

'If, however, self-inflicted causes of the condition influence the clinical or cost-effectiveness of the use of an intervention, it may be appropriate to take this into account.'

The report set out 12 principles for social value judgments.

It said guidance should only recommend doctors take into account age where there was clear evidence of differences in clinical effectiveness in different age groups 'that cannot be identified by any other means'.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, BMA head of ethics and science, said: 'I am delighted NICE has not proposed a blanket ban on some treatments for some groups of people. That would have been wholly unacceptable.

'It would also be wrong if this guidance were to be used to ration health care. The judgment should always be "does this person need treatment?" and "will treatment be of benefit?"'

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