The NHS drug pricing watchdog NICE has been given an official new title and remit as part of the major reform of the health service.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has now become the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and officially begins its new programme of work to bring high-quality guidance and standards to the social care sector.

The Institute will still be known under the acronym NICE, but the new name comes into effect to reflect the changes to its role as set out in the Health and Social Care Act (2012).

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: “April sees many changes to the way healthcare services are commissioned and how public health responsibilities are co-ordinated, but one of the constants throughout this period of transition is NICE.

“We will continue to deliver evidence-based guidance, standards and information as before but are pleased to officially begin doing so for social care. We hope this will encourage better integration of health and social care services to deliver the best possible standard of care for people.”

The health minister Lord Howe said: “NICE is an international leader in providing evidence based advice and guidance to support improvements in the health service and public health.

“Improving the standard and quality of care and support services is one of our top priorities. I am delighted that NICE's remit has expanded into this area and that it will play an important role in driving up the quality of care.”

As well as the Institute’s increased remit, the Health and Social Care Act (2012) also puts the Institute on a stronger statutory footing, changing NICE from a Strategic Health Authority to a non-departmental government body.

And as these changes come into place, its long standing chairman Sir Michael Rawlins has stepped down from his position, being replaced by Professor David Haslam.

Prof Haslam said: “I am extremely honoured to begin work as the chair of NICE. It is an organisation which, under the exemplary leadership of Professor Sir Michael Rawlins since its inception, has deservedly assumed a position as world-leader in the field of evidence-based guidance and standards.

“Sir Michael will be a tough act to follow but I look forward to the challenge of ensuring that NICE maintains and develops its hard-earned global reputation and continues to ensure better outcomes for patients in a rapidly changing health and social care environment.”

Sir Andrew Dillon added: “We are delighted to welcome our new chair, David Haslam, whose extensive experience as a GP and in the national leadership roles he has undertaken, and his awareness of the challenges facing social care, together with his knowledge of the Institute, make him ideally placed to lead NICE into the next exciting phase of its development.”

Today, the first two of the Institute’s new quality standards for social care has been published. One will focus on helping people with dementia to live well, while the other looks at improving the health and well-being of looked-after children and young people.

Nine other topics are currently in the pipeline with the Department of Health consulting with third parties on further topics for consideration.