Health white paper: NICE given social care remit


The government is to hand responsibility for developing social care “quality standards” to the body that provides advice on drugs and other medical treatments.

The move to shift some social care responsibilities from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was contained in the health white paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, which was published this week.

The white paper says the government will “expand the role of NICE to develop quality standards for social care”, while a health bill will contain measures to “put NICE on a firmer statutory footing, securing its independence and core functions and extending its remit to social care”.

A Department of Heath spokeswoman said: “We are taking this opportunity to align and develop NICE’s role in improving service quality in both health and social care.

“Having one organisation to set quality standards for health and social care will improve levels of integration between them.

“This enables frontline staff to work better together, and is consistent with the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) role as a joint regulator for both health and social care.”

She said the proposed reforms would provide an opportunity for SCIE to “create a specific role within part of a new quality framework for health and social care”.

A SCIE spokeswoman said it had worked closely with NICE on its quality standards for dementia care and had also “supported” its quality standards on stroke care.

But she said SCIE provided a wide range of other services, and it would continue to have a role in providing “practical, accessible, evidence-based support to frontline care workers”.

She added: “Obviously we will be working with the Department of Health and NICE to see how quality standards will be developed in the future.”

The CQC welcomed the move and said the new quality standards “could only be good” for service-users and would be “more detailed and more specific” than CQC’s own regulations for service-providers on quality and safety.

15 July 2010