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NICE should be handed broader remit to consider wider impact of NHS spending, says Burnham

NICE will be asked to consider the impact of its recommendations on ‘all public spending’ including the criminal justice and benefits systems if the Labour party wins the next general election, the shadow health secretary has revealed.

Speaking at the Nuffield Health Summit yesterday, Andy Burnham pledged to rebuild NICE’s ‘profile and authority’ which he said had been ‘chipped away’ by the coalition Government.

Mr Burnham set out his vision for a health service which would focus on social care and preventative medicine and said he wanted to ‘empower GPs’ by making them the coordinating figure in multidisciplinary care teams.

In response to questions after his keynote address, Mr Burnham said: ‘I would want to re-establish the profile and authority of NICE which I think has been chipped away at during this Government.’

‘NICE shouldn’t just look at the health budget, or bits of the social care budget. When it makes recommendations, it should look at all public spending, because there are certain interventions that could save the criminal justice system in mental health, or could save the benefits system in terms of work readiness, if we’re going to help people back to work.’

He added: ‘NICE should have, in my view, a broader review of the public purse. And if it makes a recommendation, and if it says something is worth doing, then it should be done everywhere.’

Mr Burnham also called for GPs to be given the freedom to deliver ‘personalised solutions’ for patients, which could include non-medical interventions such as walk-in showers for patients who need them.

He said: ‘I think it’s about empowering the GP to be at the centre of that multidisciplinary team operating within a social rather than medical model. I want the GP, not just to have the medical solutions for people, antidepressants or whatever.’

‘The GP should be able to pay to get people what they need – the walk in shower – they should be empowered to give people personalised solutions that work for those people. And I think actually that could be quite invigorating for general practice.’