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NICE boss in 'sue NHS' message

1st August 2012

The chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has told patients they should sue health authorities if they deny them drugs deemed cost effective for use on the NHS.

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His comments come amid growing evidence that trusts were acting unlawfully and denying drugs approved by NICE for use on the NHS.

He said some health trusts were also wrongly using “delaying tactics” before allowing the use of such drugs in a bid to save money.

Sir Michael made his comments in Health Service Journal and spoke specifically about the NICE-approved treatment dexamethasone intravitreal implants, for the eye condition retinal vein occlusion, which help prevent sight deterioration.

If patients were being denied access to this and other NICE-backed treatments he said they should take court action and it was unlikely the courts would side with them.

Sir Michael said: “Quite clearly numerous trusts are acting unlawfully. They are denying patients an innovative and cost-effective treatment, recommended by NICE that significantly improves their quality of life.

“The reason, of course, is that trusts do not wish to use their resources in this manner. Although they know that are required to make NICE-approved products available, they introduce delaying tactics.”

He called for clinicians to “whistle-blow” when their trusts failed to meet their legal obligations.

The matter had been raised with Sir Michaelby the RNIB, which said that if NICE had approved the drugs for use on the NHS, it was “inappropriate” for PCTs or hospitals at local level “to make decisions that run counter to that.”

 

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