Health economics rarely gets much of an airing in the media, but Saturday morning on Radio 4 was an exception. Alan Maynard valiantly defended the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s use of cost benefit analysis for new treatments.
Professor Maynard eloquently backed the use of quality-adjusted life years measurement in a system in which funds are limited.
But an oncologist put up against him did not seem to accept that NICE appreciated the real cost of drugs. The institute was turning down effective drugs, he said.
In the long term, what was probably the most significant claims made in the programme were that a lot of clinical trials could end up being carried out in China because of the pharmaceutical companies’ unhappiness with the length of time it takes governments to back new drugs.
Elsewhere, former NHS chief executive Lord Crisp’s attacks on the Health Bill got widespread coverage. The Observer had a leak of a poll of Royal College of Physicians members, which showed more than 90 per cent opposed the bill. The Sun was quick to point out foreign secretary William Hague, although backing the bill, was against service changes in his local area.
The Sun also reported on an Oxford cancer unit that was mothballed before opening. Equipment and chairs are covered in polythene, while the two and a half year old unit undergoes another review.
Bizarre story of the week was won by the Daily Mirror with a report of a patient who was attacked and bitten by a rat in a Surrey mental health unit. Hospital officials claimed it was a Siberian hamster… no sorry, a field mouse.
Having studied the grisly photos of the bites, Media Watch has decided to avoid fields in future.