NICE conference focus

Published: 12/12/2001, Volume II2, No. 5835 Page 11

Poor information systems in the NHS are still undermining the ability to assess the true impact of NICE guidance on clinical practice, three and a half years since the organisation was set up.

The verdict came from Professor Trevor Sheldon, head of health sciences at York University, who is halfway through a two-year project examining whether guidance is being properly implemented and ending the so-called postcode lottery in healthcare.

He told delegates that the preliminary results of his team's project were still largely inconclusive, but repeated a familiar criticism that NHS information systems were hampering effective audit.

'We need to set up a standard system of reporting because at the minute it is taking between six and eight months just to get the data together.

'If the NHS wishes to routinely monitor the implementation of the guidance then it cannot go through all this.'