NICE Gets Change of Name and Authority as it Announces Plans to Expand its Scope of Work
Posted 03 April 2013 | By
Following the lead of Chinese and Korean regulatory authorities, NICE-formerly the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence-now has a new name to go with a new work program brought into force this week under a massive set of reforms to the UK's National Health Service.
Au revoir, old NICE; say hello to the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
The change is more than just cosmetic, NICE has explained. Under its new charge, no longer will it just be interested in the social and monetary values of medicines. Instead, it now says it plans to get involved in social care as well, including how people are looked after in healthcare settings.
While the new authority is unlikely to directly affect the pharmaceutical or medical device industries immediately, it could come to impact how those medications are ultimately used in powerful ways.
For example, NICE has already issued a dementia quality standard, which it said will "enable individual care practitioners, care homes, agencies and other social services to ensure that people with dementia have an enhanced quality of life, a positive experience of their care and are protected from avoidable harm."
That standard includes an assessment of disease, use of treatments, "medico-legal issues, including driving," and a full array of interventions.
In addition to the change in scope, NICE said it is also being given an increase in authority, elevating its status from a "Strategic Health Authority" to a "Non-Departmental Government Body"-a quasi-autonomous agency that acts outside any existing department. A US parallel might be the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which exists as an independent regulatory agency in the hopes of isolating it from political pressures.
The name change also coincides with the departure of one of NICE's most prominent public figures, NICE Chair Professor Sir Mike Rawlins. Rawlins has been with NICE since its inception in 1999.