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J Health Serv Res Policy. 2007 Jul;12(3):160-5.

Reallocating resources: how should the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guide disinvestment efforts in the National Health Service?

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Department of Clinical Bioethics, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1156, USA.


The recent acute budgetary pressures within the English National Health Service (NHS) have accentuated calls for targeted disinvestment thereby eliminating ineffective or low-value services to provide resources that can be reallocated toward more cost-effective purposes. This challenge extends beyond allocating new resources wisely, a goal that has been, since its inception, the primary focus of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). But on 6 September 2006, the Department of Health announced a new mandate for NICE to help the NHS identify interventions that are not effective. This paper discusses current NICE efforts to support value in the NHS and then explores the policy options available to the Institute as it prepares to launch a programme to meet the NHS request for guidance on disinvestment. All of the possible options present challenges. NICE will need to collaborate in new ways with partners inside, and perhaps outside, the NHS. However, the Institute has an established reputation for rigour, transparency and political durability that makes it well qualified to sustain public support in the face of difficult decisions. Disinvestment will provide a stern test of these qualities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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