10. August 2012 15:26
Dr Chris Clayton has been confirmed as the head of NHS Blackburn and Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group when it becomes fully functional next April.
The GP has been overseeing the management of the CCG since it was developed in shadow form in March last year.
He said he was “excited” by the opportunity to “help shape the health and wellbeing” of the local population.
NHS Blackburn and Darwen CCG has a population of around 167,700 residents and includes 31 practices, including Dr Clayton’s at Darwen Health Centre.
He added that he was looking forward to working with CCG colleagues and members of the public to “address some of the health challenges” the region faces.
10. August 2012 14:16
NHS spending on mental health services has fallen in the last year, according to two Department of Health reports.
According to figures corrected for inflation, spending on mental health care for working-age people fell by 1% and that for elderly people by 3%.
Three areas identified as priorities in the recent DH plan for implementation of the mental health strategy – outreach, home treatment and early intervention – together show a 6% decline in spending.
The figures contrast with the 0.02% decline in overall NHS spending over the last year.
Both DH reports note that the drop in expenditure does not in itself prove a decline in service activity or in outcomes; and that the proportion of budget spent on front-line service provision has risen.
In addition, spending on psychological therapies increased by 6%.
Mental health charities have responded with concern to these figures.
Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health, argued that investment in mental health services would reduce the cost to the NHS of treating chronic physical conditions in people with mental health problems (£8bn), and of treating ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ (£3m).
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer contrasted the spending cuts with the Government’s stated goal of ensuring that mental health was treated on a par with physical health.
“Given that mental health services have historically been underfunded, it is hard to see how a reduction in real-terms spending will lead to mental and physical health being on a level,” he said.
10. August 2012 12:46
NICE has again requested more information from Roche on its skin cancer drug Zelboraf (vemurafenib) after failing to recommend the treatment for a second time in draft guidance.
Its independent Appraisal Committee raised concerns over the evidence supplied from the BRIM3 study and questioned the drug’s long-term benefits.
Professor Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at NICE, said the Committee required “further clarification” in order to make a final recommendation to the NHS.
Further analysis was requested by NICE during an earlier draft guidance published in June 2012. Roche provided additional information on the cost effectiveness of the drug – as well as agreeing terms with the DH to supply Zelboraf as part of a patient access scheme.
However, NICE concluded that further data is still needed on the effectiveness of the drug in relation to its cost. It has now asked Roche to supply evidence on disease progression and additional scenario analysis when compared to existing treatments.
“We hope that Roche will be able to provide this additional information so that the Committee can consider it at its next meeting on the topic,” said Professor Longson.
10. August 2012 10:31
NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson will require CCGs to state which NICE-approved treatments are available on their formularies.
In a letter to all NHS organisations, Nicholson linked this requirement to the NICE ‘compliance regime’ outlined in the Government’s innovation strategy.
His response follows a public argument between NICE and the NHS Confederation over delays in the availability of NICE-approved drugs.
In an online article, NICE Chairman Sir Michael Rawlins criticised NHS trusts for “trying to pretend” that they were capable of rethinking NICE decisions.
David Stout, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, responded that “every NHS organisation has a finite amount of money available” and that the NHS needed to be “open” about the “trade-offs” forced on it by economic pressures.
Nicholson’s letter attempts to bring together both sides of the argument by stating that PCTs and CCGs must make a public, online statement of which drugs on their formularies are NICE-approved.
The letter noted that local formularies should not “duplicate NICE assessments or challenge an appraisal recommendation”, and that addressing variations in compliance with NICE recommendations was important for the NHS.
However, it stopped short of explicitly banning local commissioners from failing to make any NICE-approved drug available. This is already a legal requirement – but NHS rationing is a sensitive issue, given the current strict cost controls.
Local formularies will be required to include “clear, simple and transparent” online lists of their NICE-approved drugs by 1 April 2013.