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New NHS drug prescribing guidance 'will not end postcode lottery'

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New guidelines on how PCTs make decisions about expensive medicines will not go far enough to end the postcode lottery for novel drugs, the RCN has claimed.

The document, defining guiding principles for processes supporting local decision making about medicines, published Department of Health’s National Prescribing Centre called for greater transparency in decision making from PCTs.

Recommendations include decision-making groups with robust procedures and greater coloration across PCTs.

But Howard Catton, RCN head of policy, said just issuing guidance was not enough to solve the problem.

‘We know that this is one of the touchstone issues for the public. Although the principles are good, leaving it to local discretion does still leave the potential for there to be different decisions made.’

However he urged PCTs to form partnerships so that they could fund expensive medicines by pooling resources for prescribing.

‘The guidance does say that PCTs should work together, so that if there is a small group of patients who need medication in one area, that could be funded.’

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