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NICE launches intervention assessment programme

Published on 27/10/03 at 10:28am

The safety and efficacy of new surgical and non-surgical interventions are to be assessed as part of a new NICE programme aimed at protecting patients and supporting NHS clinicians and organisations.

Surgeons who want to pioneer new interventions and NHS managers responsible for clinical governance will be monitored within NICE's Interventional Procedures Programme, first proposed by the Bristol Royal Infirmary Report.

Published last year, the report found many children treated by heart surgeons at Bristol had died needlessly because of poor clinical standards and a failure to learn from mistakes.

But fears have also been raised that league tables and other new checks on the performance of surgeons could deter them from taking on high risk cases.

Prof Bruce Campbell, Chair of NICE's Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee, said: "The programme will help to reassure patients and their carers that new procedures are being monitored to protect their safety. We will also promote good information for patients about risks and benefits".

"At the same time, we want to encourage innovation and to get new procedures to patients who need them throughout the health service".

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has fully endorsed the programme, which will assess any new surgical or non-surgical intervention. This includes interventions involving cutting into or gaining access to a patient's body, non-surgical access (such as through the digestive system, lungs, womb or bladder) and use of electromagnetic energy such as X-rays or ultrasound.

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