Chair and Chief Executive's Foreword

The health and social care system faces unprecedented challenges that are both varied and complex. As our population ages, many more people are presenting with more than one health condition, leading to increasingly complex demands on services. This, together with resource constraints, means it is critical that we seek new and more efficient ways of working across the system. NICE is at the heart of a range of initiatives with this as their aim.

Well-performing health and social care systems cannot rely on innovation and new technology alone. Kindness, together with trust, should be core principles of health and social care. They sum up the relationships that we each have with the people who work in the NHS and social care.
Just as no two relationships are the same, so care must be personalised for the individual. To this end we have updated and increased the prominence of our advice for health and care professionals on how they should use our guidance. New text on the introductory page of each guideline explains the value of shared decision-making and personalising care. This updated advice should help all health and care professionals use NICE guidance with confidence – balancing their experience and the needs and wishes of people using services with best practice, evidence-based recommendations.

Quality improvement remains part of our core purpose. Our recently merged Indicator Advisory Committee develops NICE indicators, which can be used to set high standards of care. This year we also issued 34 quality standards on topics ranging from prostate cancer to domestic violence and excess winter deaths.

Our social care programme is now firmly embedded in NICE. In 2015/16 we published 4 new social care guidelines, including new guidance on home care visits that calls for most visits to older people to last for at least half-an-hour.

Our clinical guidelines programme has maintained its focus on completing the library of topics we have agreed with NHS England and the Department of Health. This year, we published an updated and redesigned guideline to help identify early signs and symptoms of cancer. The guideline will help GPs speed up the process of referral, enable faster diagnosis, and should ultimately help save more lives. We also produced a new guideline that sets out how to give people the best possible care at the end of their lives, which encourages a person-centred, sensitive, evidence-based framework to guide care during the last days of life for adults, their families and others important to them.

For the health system to work at its best, the life sciences industries need to be encouraged and supported to bring truly innovative and effective products to the NHS, which really help to improve outcomes. In October 2015, we launched the Office for Market Access (OMA), a new programme that will help companies do this by offering them advice on how to collect the right evidence, how to develop a better business case for their products, and on engaging with the right people to get their products adopted in the NHS. We intend that the programme will enable technology developers to deliver effective and innovative technologies to patients more quickly.

In November 2015 the Board approved new arrangements for working with NHS England to manage the Cancer Drugs Fund. The proposals will mean that the Fund will be used for new drugs where there is real uncertainty about their clinical and cost effectiveness, and which fixed-term funding with data collection has a good chance of resolving. For the first time, NICE will issue draft guidance on new cancer drugs or significant new licence indications before they have receive marketing approval in the UK, unless external factors prevent us from doing so. Any cancer drug that receives a positive draft recommendation, or a recommendation for use in the Fund, would then be funded from the date it receives its licence, up to the date final guidance is published – and beyond, where the final recommendations are positive, or the drug is accepted into the Cancer Drugs Fund.

In July 2015, the government published its first Triennial Review of NICE. The review concluded that ‘NICE is a respected and valued organisation with an important role to play’ in the health and care system. We are encouraged by this endorsement of our work, and have been implementing the review’s conclusions in those areas it recommended that we can improve. And we are reminded that so much of the positive performance from a high-performing organisation is a result of the hard work of our staff and the many other people who contribute to our work. We are, as ever, very grateful to them.

Professor David Haslam CBE Chair
Sir Andrew Dillon CBE Chief Executive