Recommendations issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence since its creation in 1999 have been overwhelmingly positive, a fact which may come as a surprise to many.

The cost watchdog for the National Health Service has actually said ‘yes’ in 80% of its appraisals of new treatments, giving patients ‘routine’ access to the latest therapies for a whole host of different diseases.

The Institute said that from March 2000 to June 2010 it published 49 single technology appraisals, 141 multiple technology appraisal and a total of 378 individual recommendations on the use of drugs and treatments on the NHS, which have now been published on a new webpage to offer a better overview of where it stands.

“We have taken the decision to publish, in one place, a summary of all of our technology appraisal decisions in order to make it easier to find out about the recommendations we make,” explained chief executive Andrew Dillon.

All-in-all, NICE has recommended 67% of treatments for use in line with licensed indications, and 16% for ‘optimised use’, that is under specific conditions determined by the Institute to ensure that the NHS secures value for money.

A further 6% have been approved for ‘research only’, which means patients should only get access if the drugs are being used as part of a study, while just 11% have been rejected outright by the Institute, largely because of a lack of evidence of clinical effectiveness or when the treatment is not found to be cost-effective, it said.

Tightening belts
Meanwhile, the new coalition government’s hard line on public spending has not left NICE untouched.

Despite its growing workload in the health reshuffle, including a greater role in ensuring value for money and assisting commissioning decisions with its Quality Standards, the group is planning a self-imposed budget cut of 20% over the next couple of years, Dillon told reporters earlier this week.