UK Government

Department of Health: New arrangements to make treatments for very rare conditions available nationally

Press Release   •   Dec 14, 2009 10:59 GMT

A consultation on strengthening the existing arrangements for National Commissioning in England – which commissions services for extremely rare conditions on a national level – was launched today by the Department of Health.

The proposals also include adapting the scope to allow the National Commissioning system to consider a very small number of additional specialised technologies against strict criteria.

The changes to the system will create a more robust process for nationally commissioned services and ensure consistency in accessing and prescribing services for very rare conditions across the country.

Health Minister Mike O’Brien said:

“It is important that the assessment process for deciding which new drugs and treatments are available for people with extremely rare conditions is a robust and fair one, wherever they are across England.

“By strengthening the National Commissioning system, patients will be able to be confident that there is a transparent system in place for deciding which specialised services are commissioned nationally.”

It is proposed that a single expert advisory group, the National Commissioning Advisory Group is formed, replacing the current two groups, to make recommendations to Ministers, ensuring that clinical, cost effectiveness and affordability decisions are taken into account.

Drugs and treatments will only be considered for National Commissioning following assessment against very strict criteria. The vast majority of new technologies will continue to go through NICE’s existing processes.

Notes to editors

1.   The consultation will run until 19 February 2010. It seeks views on the Government’s proposals on strengthening national commissioning. The consultation can be found at:

2.   The National Commissioning Advisory Group will have a wide range of expertise to take into account both clinical and commissioning issues when assessing all treatments to be funded nationally. It will replace the National Commissioning Group in its current form, incorporating the strengthened system.

3.   The new proposals build on the current arrangements for national commissioning to assess new treatments and services which were developed in 2007 following the Carter Review in 2006.

4.   For more details please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 020 7210 5221.


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