As part of pandemic-specific arrangements, NHS England was asked to utilise its national clinical policy making expertise to lead on the development of United Kingdom-wide clinical access policy drafts enabling access to evidence-based COVID treatments. These draft policies are then considered and approved by the UK Chief Medical Officers ahead of publication, to guide the decisions of treating clinicians, and supporting medicines supply arrangements.
NHS England has been supported in this role by a range of clinical and academic experts, including representatives from the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, who meet as part of Expert Working Group arrangements. There is not a standing or single expert working group but rather a series of clinical policy-specific expert working groups that have been established and that meet, as required, with clinical expertise specific to the medicine or medicines being considered. For example, an expert working group was established specific to Evusheld as pre-exposure prophylaxis, which met twice.
Through this expert working group approach, clinicians and academics have provided advice which has helped clinical policy makers to better understand the supporting clinical trial information, to identify any important contraindications or drug to drug interactions that need to be considered, and to understand how best to place a potential new medicine option alongside current treatment choices. This has provided NHS England with both clinical subject matter and specialty expertise and a valuable ‘front line’ perspective in developing access policy proposals.