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The man from NICE

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7171.1476 (Published 28 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1476

Kamran Abbasi spoke to Michael Rawlins, the new chairman designate of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence

In 1997, Labour's Christmas presents to the NHS were NICE and CHIMP--a year later, these acronyms sound even less inspired. But Professor Michael Rawlins' appointment as chairman designate of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) will intensify the debate around the potential usefulness of these two new organisations which, despite being at the heart of the government's drive to make the NHS modern and dependable, are viewed suspiciously by the medical profession.

The government promises that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence will “give a strong lead on clinical and cost effectiveness, drawing up new guidelines and ensuring they reach all parts of the health service.” The Commission for Health Improvement (CHIMP) is envisaged to “support and oversee the quality of clinical services at local level, and to tackle shortcomings.” The national institute will tell clinicians what to do, and the commission will make sure they are doing it.

This is much the way that Professor Rawlins sees it: “NICE aims to improve the quality of clinical services across the NHS. It will do this in three ways: by evaluating new drugs and new technologies to see …

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