Newcastle Hospitals team will provide expert assessment for new diagnostic and therapeutic technologies

A new contract has been awarded to experts at Newcastle Hospitals, and partner organisation Newcastle University, seeking their input to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) decision-making process.  

NICE produces evidence-based guidance and advice for health and social care, to improve outcomes for people who use NHS services.

The Newcastle team has worked with NICE for over a decade and the additional contract extends their role as one of only four ‘external assessment groups’ until 2025. 

This status places Newcastle at the forefront of innovation, through identifying and evaluating medical technologies – such as devices, diagnostics (tests) and digital – for potential use across the whole of the NHS.

It draws upon the team’s wide range of expertise, which includes medical physics, clinical engineering, electronics, statistics, bioinformatics, literature searching and health economics. 

Through the process, NICE select a product or technology for consideration and then seek a robust process of independent appraisal, involving the external assessment group, before a decision is reached about whether to recommend it for use.

Commenting on the latest contract, Dr Andrew Sims, head of the Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering department at Newcastle Hospitals said:

“We’ve worked closely with NICE for some time now and are delighted to be awarded this contract confirming our continued status as an external assessment group.

“In collaboration with colleagues at Newcastle University, our collective experience and expertise mean we’re able to provide detailed appraisals contributing to new NICE guidance for the wider health service.

“It’s rewarding and exciting to play a part in helping to introduce high quality, cutting-edge technologies that can benefit patients across the whole NHS.”

Professor Dawn Craig, who is jointly working on the project with Professor Luke Vale, both of Newcastle University, said:

“We are delighted to be collaborating on this important work, supporting NICE to get innovations of value into the NHS for the benefit of patients. Our methodological research groups look forward to advancing the application, development and critique of novel methods to support the NHS.”

Professor Luke Vale added: “This is a challenging and fast-moving area and we will strive to develop robust methods that continue to meet the changing needs of the NHS and the health and care sector.”

Examples of previous assessments conducted by the Newcastle team include:

  • A laser technique used for the treatment of benign prostate enlargement
  • A magnetic tracer to locate lymph nodes for biopsy
  • A handheld device to detect certain cardio problems
  • Antimicrobial sutures (stitches) for preventing infection.

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