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NICE opens for business

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 10 April 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:962
  1. John Warden, parliamentary correspondent
  1. BMJ

    The drive to raise clinical standards throughout the NHS in England was taken forward last week with the inauguration of the National Institute for Clinical Standards (NICE).

    A board of three men and three women was named to serve under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Rawlins, professor of clinical pharmacology at Newcastle University.

    The aim is that NICE should identify best practice and advise doctors and nurses on which treatments work best for patients and are cost effective. The health secretary, Frank Dobson, said that NICE will ensure that the latest treatments are available equally to all patients.

    It is meant to answer the criticism of uneven access in different areas, or “rationing by postcode.”

    Membership of the NICE board was announced as follows: Andrew Dillon, 44, chief executive, formerly chief executive of St George's Healthcare Trust, London; Professor Anthony Culyer, 58, health economist at York University; Mary McClarey, 48, a nurse manager; Roy Luff, 58, former managing director of the Aluminium Corporation; Dr Parveen Kumar, 56, consultant physician, St Bartholomew's Hospital; and Dr Susanna Lawrence, 40, GP, Leeds.

    Between 30 and 50 technologies a year will be appraised by NICE. It will be followed by a Commission for Health Improvement with powers of inspection and enforcement now being legislated.

    The institute, which is based in Covent Garden, central London, will have a permanent staff of 30 and a budget in its first year of £9.8m ($15.7m). It will have close links with several other organisations, and a great deal of its work will be done by people in the regions, by the royal colleges, and by professional organisations.

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