The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to develop quality standards for 31 new clinical areas, on topics including asthma, bipolar disorder, diabetes and four different types of cancer.

This latest round of standards will join the suite of four already published by NICE -  for stroke, dementia, prevention of venous thromboembolism and specialist neonatal care - with a further nine  currently in development.

The 31 new topics cover: acute chest pain; antenatal care; asthma (including children and young people); bipolar disorder in adults; bipolar disorder in children and adolescents; colorectal cancer; diabetes in children (type 1 and type 2); diagnosis and management of hepatitis B in all ages; drug use disorders (over-16s); epilepsy in adults; epilepsy in children;

falls in a care setting; head injury; hip fractures; intrapartum care; intravenous fluid therapy in hospitalised adult patients; lung cancer; management of myocardial infarction; management of ulcerative colitis; meningitis in the under-16 age group; migraine/headache in those over age 12; nutrition in hospital, including young people;

osteoarthritis; ovarian cancer; postnatal care; pressure ulcers; prostate cancer; pulmonary embolism; reflux disease (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease); safe prescribing; and schizophrenia.

NICE quality standards are the only standards in health and social care that apply nationally in England, and aim to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellence in services. They are a set of specific, concise statements that act as markers of high-quality, clinically and cost-effective patient care, and will play a pivotal role in the NHS Outcomes Framework 2011-12, which was published by the Department of Health in late December.

Quality standard topics are referred to NICE by government ministers on the advice of the National Quality Board, a group of representatives of health and social care.

NICE aims is to produce a suite of 150 quality standards over the next five years. The nine which it currently has in development are for: depression; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); chronic kidney disease; diabetes; glaucoma; end-of-life care; alcohol dependence; breast cancer; and chronic heart failure.

• Late last month, it was reported that the government has told NICE to abandon work on six public health guidelines - including tackling tobacco-related issues and efforts to prevent road injuries in children and the young - from its work programme. The development of five other public health-related guidances which was already underway is to be put on hold, and the need for a further eight, on which work had not yet started, is to be reviewed.