My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord is entirely wrong in his supposition. The intention behind the establishment of NICE was to end the legacy of postcode rationing which this Government inherited. Drugs were available in one part of the country but not in another, and patients were eligible to receive treatment in one part of the country but not in another.
The establishment of NICE was intended to provide the most authoritative guidance possible on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of drug treatment and other medical treatments in order to ensure a much greater uniformity of use within the National Health Service. We have seen the results of that in the initial recommendations made by NICE in relation to certain cancer drugs and in other recommendations. As those recommendations are adopted by the health service, people are in a better position to receive drugs and treatments which NICE has advised are effective and cost-effective.
Instead of the ability to obtain drugs resting on the variability of parochial decisions, surely it is better that that ability now rests on the best evidence available. The ultimate aim of NICE will not be to restrict treatments which are effective and cost-effective; it will be to ensure that they are provided uniformly throughout the country.