End of the postcode lottery Local hospital trusts to be banned from blacklisting drugs backed by health watchdog
15:47 GMT, 9 August 2012
Primary Care Trusts will be stopped from blacklisting drugs approved by the NHS drug rationing watchdog from April 2013, according to the Department of Health.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has written to the leaders of the PCTs and Strategic Health Authorities telling them to start removing drugs from local blacklists that have been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.
He added that this would be a standard clause in NHS contracts from next year. NHS chief pharmacists will also be asked to review local formularies – the list of preferred generic and brand name drugs.
Postcode lottery: NICE-approved drugs must be made available under new NHS contracts
NICE was established in 1999 in an attempt to tackle the postcode lottery of healthcare in England and Wales.
It is an independent organisation that decides which drugs and treatments should be available on the NHS based on how well it works and whether it is cost-effective.
However, last year a report in GP Magazine revealed a quarter of PCTs were not offering drugs recommended by NICE.
Sir David Nicholson, NHS chief executive, has written to the leaders of the PCTs and SHAs to inform them of the new rules
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley responded by saying trusts would be forced to make NICE-approved drugs available.
Sir David's letter, dated the 9 August, reinforced this statement.
He wrote: 'Our intention was, and remains clear – to support patient access to NICE recommended medicines and technologies.'
He said local drugs lists should not challenge NICE appraisal recommendations and that once they had been approved 'there should be no further barriers' for the medicines.
He added that although 'good progress' had been made towards removing postcode lotteries there is 'much more to do to reduce variation.'
Sir David said all NHS organisations would need to publish information showing how NICE appraisals are taken into account when drawing up approved drugs lists. He added they would need to be clear and transparent so patients can easily understand them.