National Institiue for Health and Clinical Excellence

Annual Review - 2009/2010

Chairman's and Chief Executive's foreword

Although the NHS is facing the biggest shake-up in its history, one thing remains clear. NICE’s role in helping to provide the highest quality evidence for clinical and public health communities, based on the most robust and up-to-date evidence, remains as important now as it has ever been in the 12 years of its existence.

Our advice helps ensure that NHS patients are offered care that is known to be clinically and cost effective. This helps cut down on ineffective practices and so frees up resources that can be channelled into other services.

We also provide the wider public health community with advice on maintaining good health and preventing ill health so as to increase the wellbeing of the population as a whole.

During the course of this last year we published 122 individual pieces of guidance which included:

  • our 25th piece of public health guidance, which covered the prevention of cardiovascular disease, in June 2010
  • our 100th clinical guideline, which looked at alcohol misuse, also in June 2010
  • our 200th technology appraisal, on peginterferon alfa and ribavirin for the treatment of hepatitis C, in September 2010
  • our 350th interventional procedure guidance, on photodynamic therapy for Barrett’s oesophagus, in June 2010.

The first tranche of our quality standards covering dementia, stroke and venous thromboembolism prevention was launched in June 2010. Five more quality standards followed before the end of the year, covering specialist neonatal care, chronic kidney disease, depression in adults, diabetes in adults, and glaucoma.

Eventually some 150 clinical areas will each have their own set of quality standards that will outline the vision of what high-quality care should look like in the NHS. These quality standards will form the basis of commissioning decisions, and will inform the development of our new commissioning guides.

In December 2010, we supported the use of a balloon catheter for coronary artery surgery, in the first piece of guidance from our new medical technology programme. This programme was set up to focus specifically on the evaluation of innovative medical technologies – and especially those that are cost saving – in an attempt to speed up their introduction into the health service.

Our diagnostics technology programme – designed to help the NHS adopt efficient and cost-effective medical diagnostic technologies more rapidly and consistently – is also up and running and will soon publish its first piece of guidance.

We have continued to play a key role in setting the clinical and cost-effectiveness indicators for the Quality and Outcomes Framework, the incentive scheme for general practice.

Supporting those working in primary care has been a key objective for NICE over the past year. A new section of our website has been designed to help staff in general practice get the most out of evidence and guidance provided by NICE.

An online database, offering GPs advice on referring patients from primary to secondary care, was launched to help reduce the number of inappropriate referrals and ensure value for money in the NHS. NHS Evidence also took responsibility for the national QIPP (Quality, Improvement, Productivity and Prevention) collection which supports staff in meeting the efficiency challenge.

In May 2011, NICE launched an exciting new product called NICE Pathways. This is an online tool for health and social care professionals that will bring together all connected NICE guidance on a topic in a user-friendly electronic flowchart. 

The Health and Social Care Bill currently before Parliament will empower NICE to develop guidance and quality standards to inform social care. We relish the prospect of helping bring together the NHS and social care for both children and adults. In acknowledgement of our expanded role, our name will change to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence but will still be abbreviated to ‘NICE’.

Looking further ahead, the government will finalise plans to introduce a new value-based system of pricing medicines which aims to give NHS patients better access to effective and innovative medicines.

We believe that the aims of value-based pricing can be achieved by adapting the current NICE technology appraisal process and by building on the best of a system that is widely regarded as the world leader in evaluating the cost and clinical effectiveness of new drugs.

Expanding our remit and increasing our workload would simply not be possible without the dedicated support of our staff, those who serve on our advisory bodies, and our stakeholders in the NHS, the professions, patient organisations and the life sciences industries.

It is through their collective commitment and enthusiasm that we continue to grow, develop new services and devise ways of presenting our recommendations to help achieve the highest attainable standards of healthcare. We are extremely grateful for all their hard work.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins Chairman
Sir Andrew Dillon CBE Chief Executive