NICE: NHS Becoming 'Conveyor Belt'

The Chairman Of NICE Believes The NHS Is Becoming A 'Conveyor Belt' For Patients

19.05.2014

The chairman of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said the NHS must reform the way it prescribes drugs to patients.

Professor David Haslam said NICE is trying to change the way that drugs are approached by doctors and nurses, as he is worried patients are being given too many different types of medication that might not be tailored to their condition, reports the Times.

The chair wants doctors to be more proactive in discussing the pros and cons of drugs they are prescribing instead of asking patients to trust their judgement.

"It's not a question of NICE saying patients must take this drug if they've got that," he explained.

"What we're trying to say is clinicians and patients need to discuss what the evidence is for use of that treatment, for that patient in that situation.
"The health service as a whole has been a bit like a conveyor belt - you get on and have the treatment laid out for you."

Although Professor Haslam admitted that many doctors would be "uncomfortable" with his suggestions, as they may be hesitant to warn about unlikely side-effects that could scare a patient off taking a drug, he said the profession needs to be more progressive and adaptable to change.

Earlier this month, NICE made headlines after it published new draft guidance on "rapid assessment tests" for people who are suspected of having heart attacks.

There were criticisms that previous tests were not accurate enough, with most patients waiting ten to 12 hours for treatment.

This meant victims of heart attacks had to wait for hours to be able to receive medicinal treatment for their ailment, while the new high-sensitivity Troponin tests are much quicker and can allow for better patient outcomes.

NICE expects a full draft guideline to be sent out to doctors on June 10th, although it is unclear when this will come into effect in hospitals across the country.

Expert Opinion
The fundamental priority for the NHS must always be to ensure the needs of the patient are met in a safe manner and any reform of guidelines related to issues such as drug prescription should always reflect that.

“Any new approach to this issue must ensure that the safety of patients are met and that their health and wellbeing remain the number one priority. Treatment should also always be tailored to ensure that the specific circumstances of that patient are always taken into account.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner