Keyhole surgery brought into line

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The Independent Online
The Government is to establish a vetting system to evaluate the safety and efficiency of major medical advances - such as keyhole surgery - to protect patients from untried techniques by untrained doctors.

New innovations would be scrutinised by a committee of experts, and if approved, "fast-tracked" throughout the health service, Gerald Malone, the Minister for Health,said yesterday.

The new system, which is being developed by the Department of Health in consultation with the Royal College of Surgeons, should be in place within the next few months. Mr Malone announced there would be a mechanism for controlling new innovations in surgery at the opening of a £1.9m keyhole surgery training centre at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

It is understood it would operate in a similar way to the Committee on the Safety of Medicines, but with different specialists, drawn together on an ad hoc basis, to examine proposed procedures, technologies, instruments and equipment.

A major advance would be subject to clinical trials, approval of local ethics committees and evaluated by a panel of experts before being coded and introduced in the NHS.

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