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NICE to develop public health standards

NICE will develop quality standards to hold the NHS to account for its public health activity for the first time, with the first to look at tobacco, harmful use of alcohol and obesity, the Government has announced.

Health minister Earl Howe made the announcement at NICE’s annual conference in Birmingham today and said the Government’s vision was for many more quality standards covering health, social care and public health over the next five years.

Two joint health and social care quality standards have already been published for the care of looked after children and patients with dementia, with a further eight social care quality standards to be drafted. These will add to a library of 180 healthcare standards, of which 31 have been published already, he said.

He said: ‘I can announce today that the Government has asked NICE to develop the first quality standards for public health. Public health quality standards alongside and integrated with those for healthcare will provide a key tool to support Public Health England, local authorities and the wider public health community in achieving excellence.

‘We’ve asked NICE to develop three quality standards on tobacco, harmful alcohol use and obesity, mainly the most obvious candidates to start off with.’ These will be followed by a consultation on other topics, he added.

Lord Howe also reiterated the commitment to move towards value-based pricing, a system which he said will mean the price of drugs will more closely linked to improvements in quality of life for patients.

In future, NICE will need to work closely with NHS England and the regulators, and tailor advice to local authorities and CCGs, he said, adding that they will work with the Government in their response to the Francis report, he added.