A new scheme has been announced that should encourage NHS organisations to adopt newly approved drugs and treatments more quickly.
Announced today (August 28th) by the Department of Health, the scheme is designed to prevent trusts in some areas of the country from delaying the provision of new treatments that are adopted more rapidly in other parts of the NHS.
Under the regime, which is due to be implemented by the autumn, organisations will be required to comply with guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).
Alternatively, those in doctor jobs will be expected to explain to patients why there is a delay in accessing the treatment in question.
An 'innovation scorecard' will be published, making it easy to see which organisations are quick to adopt the latest Nice-approved treatments and those that are lagging behind.
New drugs and treatments will automatically be added on to lists of drugs that are offered in local areas and made available for doctors to prescribe.
In addition, a new group will be set up to help local NHS organisations to implement Nice guidelines and to help them overcome any barriers to doing so.
This in turn should encourage the adoption of best practice and give patients across the country faster access to new medicines.
Health minister Paul Burstow said that patients have a right to receive Nice-approved treatments.
"This new regime will be a catalyst for change - we are determined to eradicate variation and drive up standards for everyone," he said.
"Being transparent with data like this is the hallmark of a 21st century NHS. It is a fundamental tool to help healthcare professionals improve patient care."
David Stout, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the plans could improve transparency by allowing patients to compare access to medicines and treatments across the NHS.
However, he also noted that any new measures must not lead to "unnecessary bureaucracy or a duplication of information with no real benefits for hospitals, GPs of patients".
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