The public spending squeeze means primary care trusts are likely to come under greater scrutiny over their following of recommendations in National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines and technology appraisals. 

Speaking at the institute’s Labour conference fringe event, NICE deputy chief executive Gillian Leng said: “As primary care trusts come under more financial pressure it is important for there to be some auditing and monitoring of uptake of the drugs that have been recommended.”

She also cited the first statistics on the use of NICE-appraised drugs, published earlier this month by the NHS Information Centre, which looked at 26 selected drugs. Ms Leng described the results as “generally very positive”.

She said the challenge was maintaining and improving this. “Helping by giving some sort of benchmark level of where we eventually need to be is something we need to do,” she added.