Commissioners are failing to embrace advances in medical science, health minister Lord Hunt has warned.

The minister for NHS reform said many managers looked at the costs of new treatments rather than taking into account the long-term savings they would deliver.

Speaking at the Healthcare Innovations conference in London last week, Lord Hunt said it was 'not acceptable for patients that there should be this lag in the take-up of proven new treatments'.

'Primary care trusts, in their role as commissioners, have to have a much better sense of where investment can produce much more cost-effective services,' he said.

'If the commissioners themselves understand the need for a research culture and a passionate interest in investment and innovation, then I think we can really change the culture of the NHS.'

Lord Hunt admitted that advice and guidance given to commissioners may have to be improved.

NHS Confederation PCT network director David Stout said: 'The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence only looks at a minority of the things available for us to commission. PCTs are left with a challenge over the evidence base on which to make local decisions.'

Better information could be given by suppliers of new technology in the absence of NICE guidelines, he said.

Former health minister Lord Warner has blamed the NHS's failure to reap the benefits from the expanding workforce on the refusal of staff to accept change.

He said the workforce has been restricted by 'productivity issues' and criticised staff for failing to embrace the government's IT programme.

'If you ask 'have staff delivered all you would have wanted them to for the extra investment?' then the frank answer for me is 'not as much as I would like to have seen',' he told Parliamentary Monitor.