The NHS touches all our lives.
It treats over a million people a day in England, and was the first universal health system, available to all, free at the point of delivery.
As we mark its 75th anniversary, I’m sure many of us will be taking some time to celebrate this remarkable institution.
Over the years, one of the NHS’ key strengths has been its ability to adapt, and evolve, to meet the needs of successive generations. From providing Europe’s first liver transplant in 1968, to pioneering newer treatments such as whole genome sequencing service for seriously ill babies or children.
Throughout NICE’s existence, we’ve supported the NHS with getting such innovative treatments to patients fast.
And as the NHS has evolved, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet these needs.
So, on this landmark day, I wanted to reflect on a few of the NHS’s key recent achievements, and the role NICE has played in supporting them.
Adopting innovative technologies at speed
The NHS leads the way in adopting innovative medicines.
Industry data shows there are five treatments available in England for every four in Europe, as well as almost a third more cancer drugs. In addition, the UK is 3rd globally in the number of medicines commercialised within one year of regulatory approval.
We know our stakeholders value the rigour and independence we apply to making the right decisions on treatments. But we also know that they would like us to make these decisions faster.
This year, we’ve taken important steps to achieve this ambition.
In 2022-23 we appraised 70% more medicines than 2019-20, and we evaluated medicines 17% faster on average, meaning thousands of patients gained access to new treatments sooner.
We also recommended 20 digital technologies and adopted a streamlined approach to our appraisals, allowing us to recommend treatments up to 20 weeks faster than our standard processes.
We could only achieve this through working closely with our partners and stakeholders to offer flexible solutions to issues of data and value.
Supporting integrated care systems
In 2022, the NHS set up integrated care systems (ICS) across England. The systems address issues such as health inequalities and plan services to better meet the needs of patients.
Over the past year, we’ve supported ICSs in three major ways.
We know our colleagues in the system are very time-pressured, inundated with information, and need easy access to summaries of our guidance. So, we put together three resources to help practitioners and commissioners:
- We created a new resource that, for the first time, brings together all NICE guidance and advice on health inequalities in one place.
- We launched a new tool that supports practitioners and commissioners with productivity and planning priorities.
- We worked with NHS England to develop a quick guide on secondary prevention. The resource sets out advice on the most impactful interventions relating to the management and prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease.
Rapid guidance on COVID-19
We’re proud to have supported the NHS as it dealt with COVID-19
During the pandemic, we collaborated with researchers to identify potential new drugs for COVID-19. We produced rapid guidelines on COVID-19 for clinicians on topics, which were viewed over 4.2 million times in the first year alone.
We collaborated with partners to publish guidelines that, for the first time, recommended standards in information provision to people with the long-term effects of COVID-19.
More recently, we developed a new rapid review process to update recommendations on the cost-effectiveness of COVID-19 treatments. This is so that they can be made available more quickly to patients if they show promise against new variants and are found to be cost-effective.
We also issued guidance on treatments for COVID-19 that for the first time, considered evidence from in vitro studies. These lab-based studies can be used to quickly assess how well treatments work against new variants, and therefore predict whether they will work in the real world to protect people.
NICE transformation: keeping up with innovation
I’m proud of the ways that NICE has supported the NHS in the 24 years since our inception.
But the world is changing, and like the NHS, it’s important that we evolve to meet changing needs.
So, we’re taking measures to adapt.
We’re creating new processes, involving novel approaches to data collection and evaluation. This will ensure our guidance is relevant, timely useable and has impact.
You can hear more about this important work at an event we’re hosting next week. The event is free to attend and will explain how NICE is transforming over the next few years. I would welcome you to sign up to what will be an informative and engaging session.
Celebrating 75 years of the NHS and looking to the future
On the NHS’s 75th anniversary, I’ll be reflecting on how proud I am of its achievements and of NICE’s role in supporting them. I’ll also look to the future with excitement for how we’ll meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Through NICE’s programme of transformation, I know we’ll continue to support the NHS, to ensure it remains sustainable, and that it remains the healthcare envy of the world.
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