NICE deny changes to evaluation will affect elderly

The NATIONAL Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has rejected claims that proposed changes to the way in which treatments are evaluated for the NHS will mean that older patients lose out.

The Daily Telegraph published an article last month, voicing concerns over measures which it says could see the access to certain drugs on the NHS, such as cancer treatments, restricted for older patients.

The article reported that changes to the way in which NICE appraises treatments for the NHS could mean that new drugs which would primarily be used by older patients – such as cancer drugs or eye treatments – may not be recommended by the body due to a perceived lack of wider benefit to society.
 
NICE confirmed that the Department of Health has asked it to consider the ‘wider societal benefits’ when appraising treatments for use on the NHS, along with cost and efficacy. However, the organisation has spoken out against the claims and denies that any of the proposals would mean withholding treatments from specific patient groups. Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “We have no intention of introducing a change to our methods that would disadvantage older people”.
 
Professor Carole Longson, director for the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: ”In making recommendations about which treatments to recommend for use in the NHS, NICE does not and will not make decisions based on the likely age group of patient. It would be wrong morally and legally to consider an older patient as somehow of less value to society”.
 
According to NICE, consultations on the new proposals are due to take place over the coming months, with the final methods to be implemented by autumn of this year.
 
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