What recent assessment his Department has made of the clinical effectiveness of facet joint injections; and if he will make a statement.
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Recommendations on facet joint injections were made by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in its 2009 clinical guidelines on low back pain. NICE did not find sufficient research evidence that strongly supported the effectiveness of facet joint injections and recommended that more research should be done. I understand that the National Institute for Health Research is looking at whether it will commission further research.
Access to these injections is restricted in North Yorkshire and York PCT, although it is widely available on the NHS in other areas. The consultant in charge of York's pain clinic believes that the PCT is not following the most recent NICE guidelines. What are the Government doing to reduce this kind of postcode lottery? Will the Minister contact the PCT and arrange for it to meet me and the consultant to discuss how these guidelines ought to be applied in North Yorkshire and York?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks and point out that it is precisely because of the situation that he describes that we are bringing in some of our reforms. It is important that decisions about treatment and care are made by clinicians-GPs and a large number of other people, including some voluntary and charitable organisations-and that they are clinically led, evidence-based and also include patient choice.