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NICE should make rationing decisions, say LMCs

By Gareth Iacobucci

LMC leaders have urged the Government to reverse plans to remove NICE's statutory responsibility for ruling on whether high cost drugs should be available on the NHS.

The Government wants GP consortia to assume responsibility for rationing treatment, a plan which has provoked concern among many GPs.

And representatives at the annual LMCs conference in London overwhelmingly backed a motion which said decisions about whether the NHS can afford high cost drugs or treatments 'should continue to be made by a national body'.

Dr Rajgopalan Menon, a GP in Leeds and from Leeds LMC, who proposed the motion, said: 'Let us agree that high cost drugs and new technologies be independently assessed.'

The motion was opposed by Dr Mark Levy a member of Harrow LMC, who said he had been a referee for NICE and warned that accepting it would prevent the GPC from being able to 'remove political control' in setting NICE's parameters.

But Dr Bill Beeby, chair of the debate and chair of the GPC's clinical and prescribing subcommittee, said NICE did set its own parameters, and backed the motion, after declaring the current plans as 'madness'.

He said: 'The GPC has been pushing this policy already. If we're going to have a national health service, some things really have to be national.'

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