Treatments in health service to be assessed
The independent assessements would cover anything from a drug, to a new type of wound dressing, to an advance in heart surgery. They would avoid the piecemeal introduction of advances, which tend to spread out from the research centres, as well as abandoning those that do not work.
Such assessments would be powerful tools in the hands of clinicians arguing for the provision of a new service.
They could also avoid the current situation in which 'test-tube' baby techniques are rarely available on the NHS.
In addition to answering the questions 'does it work' and 'is it safe', the NHS assessement would consider many other implications of any new idea, including its cost and affordability, any ethical or social implications and its impact on death rates, life at home or the organisation of health services.
The proposals are contained in a discussion paper, Effects of Health Technologies, Principles, Practice, Proposals, commissioned by Professor Michael Peckham, NHS director of research and development, from the Advisory Group on Health Technology Assessment. The term technology is used to describe any new method or idea.
It argues for maximum openness and says it should be 'scientific misconduct' not to report findings.
Some will view the recommendations as a way of rationing health care and as a constraint on innovation; others will see it as a long-overdue attempt to provide the best treatments fairly across the country and as a counter to the powerful lobby of the pharmaceutical industry.
The report points out that there are five-fold differences in European countries between the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs - Britain is one of the the lowest users. It says that in the United Kingdom there are three-fold differences in rates at which GPs in adjacent practices refer their patients to hospital specialists.
The report says: 'If an approach is beneficial, cost effective and affordable for particular patients it should be widely available to them. If it is not then it should be abandoned.'
It says that the effect of new technologies on families and friends must be considered and points to the feasibility of giving sick children artificial life-support at home. 'Even though parents have been found to be overwhelmingly in favour of trying to care for their children at home, it is clear that setting up domiciliary artificial ventilation causes substantial emotional and financial problems for parents,' it says.
It accepts it will never be realistic to establish all the effects of a new technology and that some assessments would need to be very large and conducted over a long time. But it took a study of 17,000 heart attack cases to find out that 'a technology as simple and inexpensive as low dose aspirin could reduce the risk of premature death by a fifth'.
Looking at the importance of making information freely available, the report gives the example of the choice of suture material to repair tears after childbirth, which was found to make a difference of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent in women who had pain during intercourse three years afterwards.
Professor Peckham said the Department of Health was developing a coherent strategy for evaluating health care in the light of the report's findings. 'It is essential reading for all those interested in and involved in improving health,' he said.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...