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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round of NHS and healthcare stories

Government wants NICE process speeded up
The Department of Health is aiming to speed up the review process by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) by streamlining the system by which topics are selected for review. The proposed new system encourages wider representation from the NHS and patient groups in the topic selection process and covers clinical guidelines, technical appraisals and public health programmes. ìWe need the process to be quicker, more responsive and have more NHS and patient representation to ensure the topics referred to NICE are the ones on which advice is most needed,î said health minister, Jane Kennedy. The DoH has launched a consultation document setting out the proposals.

Nurse goes to High Court over Herceptin
A second woman is to take her fight for right to be prescribed breast cancer drug Herceptin to the High Court. Psychiatric nurse, Elisabeth Cooke, 59, from Bristol was recommended the Roche drug by her specialist for her early stage breast cancer but North Bristol Primary Care Trust has refused to supply it, saying her circumstances are not exceptional. North Bristol PCT has been ordered to continue to fund her treatment with Herceptin pending the outcome of the case. Mrs Cooke's application to the High Court is supported by her union Unison, who said the refusal of treatment amounts to a breach of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights. Last month, Ann Marie Rogers, lost her High Court battle to receive Herceptin treatment. She will have her appeal heard later this month. Herceptin is currently licensed for use in treating women with advanced breast cancer.

Stroke care needs to improve, says HC
Independent NHS watchdog, the Healthcare Commission (HC), has called for better services for patients who have suffered a stroke. In a survey of 850 stroke patients, only 66 per cent rated their care as excellent, very good or good, a fall of 21 per cent from last year. One third of survey respondents thought their care was fair, poor or very poor after leaving hospital, compared to 12 per cent a year earlier. 59 per cent felt they had not been involved enough in decisions about their care and treatment while 32 per cent of those who said they would have liked information about stroke said they had not received any. ìThe need for top quality care doesn't end when the patient leaves hospital,' said HC chief executive, Anna Walker. ìStroke sufferers have told us that they need more rehabilitation and support - both emotional and physical - once they return home.î

Foundation trust sued over treatment bill
Private health insurer, AXA PPP is suing an NHS foundation trust for allegedly overcharging it for private patient treatment performed by one of its surgeons. AXA PPP issued proceedings against the Royal Marsden hospital, seeking repayment of a sum ìin the region of £200,000î for alleged differences between the amounts it was charged and the treatment documented in medical notes, in cases during the period 1999-2004. The insurer said it was highly reluctant to act on the matter, but had no alternative as the invoices had come from the hospital, rather than directly from the surgeon involved.

30th September 2008


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