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Last autumn the government announced that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will lose its power to decide which drugs the NHS can and cannot use. NICE will still provide advice on drug efficacy but GP consortia, due to replace primary care trusts from 2013, will decide on local drug funding. The plans will start in 2014 with a new system called ‘value based pricing’, which will be negotiated by civil servants. Although the immediate impact that this decision will have on emergency services is nil or minimal, beware the unintended consequences.
A popular view of NICE is that it has the personality and management style of a control freak and is a mean, penny-pinching government quango denying sick people access to life-saving drugs, a belief promulgated by some media outlets and largely based on emotional stories …