Strong views from NICE chair on commissioners withholding NICE-advised treatments

NICE chair Professor Sir Michael Rawlins suggested in an HSJ article last week that commissioners who fail to implement NICE guidance on adoption of new technologies should face judicial review. He believes that many trusts are acting unlawfully in denying patients Nice approved treatments and that trusts are wrongly using delaying tactics.

Rawlins also called for "my clinical colleagues to start exercising leadership and whistle-blow" when their trusts fail to meet their legal obligations. The Francis inquiry may well propose new avenues by which 'whistle-blowers' can be better heard. In the meantime I suggest my colleagues should inform the chair of the trust board. If NHS managers wish to avoid this they should arrange for NICE's forward agenda to be examined with care by their formulary committees.

CCGs will be in the hot seat of these decisions in the very near future.

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