News Archive

Archive of: 2008


  • NHS Constitution

    The Specialised Healthcare Alliance has voiced its support for the draft NHS Constitution but proposed two important changes concerning the uptake of innovation and a right to access both local and specialised NHS services. The Alliance also favours a separate statement of accountability including Parliament’s role in shaping the balance between the needs of the individual and society in allocating limited tax revenues.

  • Top-up payments

    The Alliance has submitted comments to the review of top-up payments being conducted by Professor Mike Richards. The Alliance considers that such payments should be exceptional, keeping the onus on the NHS to provide the best quality of care and treatments. With this in mind, it strongly endorses moves to speed up NICE appraisals and recommends that the threshold determining the cost effectiveness of treatments should be raised to reflect the considerable growth in NHS expenditure. Where, despite these and other suggested improvements, the NHS fails to fund a treatment, the Alliance proposes that individuals should be able to do so privately without forfeiting the right to free NHS care, providing their physician considers the treatment clinically desirable.

  • Whose money is it anyway?

    The system of funding specialised services is in need of review – that was the view of delegates at the Specialised Healthcare Alliance’s event at the annual NHS Confederation conference in Manchester on 20 June. In a lively debate among commissioners, providers and others, there was recognition of the limitations of the method of top-slicing PCTs to fund specialised healthcare at the national level.

    Mark Cooke, Chief Executive of Dudley PCT and Dr Stephen Waldek, Medical Director of Salford NHS Foundation Trust were the speakers at the event, where delegates also discussed how commissioners could influence research and development priorities and the importance of decommissioning outdated services in the NHS.

  • French EU Presidency set to prioritise rare diseases

    The Specialised Healthcare Alliance has welcomed news from France that the country has issued a new set of actions after its 2005-2008 National Rare Disease Plan. France was the first European nation to implement a rare disease plan, which has since been taken as a model by others. The plan includes measures to provide support for medical and non-medical products for patients with rare diseases. France is also set to assume the Presidency of the European Union on 1 July 2008 and is planning to take action to improve the care of rare diseases throughout Europe, including a series of events throughout the year.

  • SHCA conference on high cost treatments

    The Specialised Healthcare Alliance has announced the line-up for its November 2008 conference on high cost treatments. Supported by the Genetic Interest Group and the Royal College of Physicians, the conference will explore the pressures on the NHS in its provision of high cost treatments and the consequences for patients.

    Speakers will include Lord Darzi, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, Chris Reed, Chair of the North East Specialised Commissioning Group and Joan Saddler, Director of Patient and Public Affairs at the Department of Health.

  • Who will stand up for rare conditions?

    Specialised Healthcare Alliance director John Murray has argued in a recent article for the Health Service Journal that the NHS needs to be better equipped to treat rare conditions.

    He writes: “ the cumulative number of people suffering from all rare conditions is considerable. No official figures exist, but we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people. That is why specialist medicine is central to a functioning health service.”

  • NICE's social value judgements

    The Specialised Healthcare Alliance has responded to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s consultation on the principles it should follow in designing process es to develop guidance.

    p.The proposals build on the 2005 NICE document, ‘Social value judgements: principles for the d e velopment of NICE guidance’. In its response the SHCA emphasise s that a better balance needs to be struck between the various factors mentioned in the Secretary of State’s directions to NICE, including the degree of clinical need and the impact on innovation as well as cost effectiveness.

  • Survey of specialised commissioning groups

    The Specialised Healthcare Alliance conducted a survey of Specialised Commissioning Groups in the autumn of 2007 to assess early progress in implementing certain aspects of the Carter recommendations, as adopted by Ministers in July 2006. The results show that a good start has been made but that much remains to be done in relation to the number of services collaboratively commissioned, the pooling of budgets and public and patient involvement.

    The Alliance looks forward to maintaining and strengthening its links with Specialised Commissioning Groups and others as they seek to deliver on this key component of World Class Commissioning.