NICE helps councils to assess prevention strategies

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Professor Mike Kelly web NICE has produced an online ‘infographic’ for the new public health authorities to help them assess the cost-effectiveness of preventative strategies.

The briefing explores the health, work and community benefits of public health interventions to address issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity.

This interactive document is the first example of NICE’s new cost-benefit metric for the community, which goes beyond the QALY metric of cost-utility analysis for the individual.

The QALY algorithm has been declared invalid and “unfit for purpose” by the European Commission, but is still used by NICE to assess the value of drugs.

The public health briefing may help pharmaceutical companies to see how NICE will approach the new value-based pricing system beyond the end of 2013.

NICE notes that actions aimed at the whole population, such as campaigns to promote healthy eating and restrict drug abuse, are of high economic value – for example, Bury Metropolitan Council found it could save £2.82 for each £1 invested in smoking cessation interventions.

Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said: “In this cash-strapped economic climate, the bottom line is that these public health activities can save local authorities money. The comparatively small cost of interventions to tackle issues like obesity, physical activity and smoking is outstripped by the savings in the medium to longer-term due to improved health and related factors like greater productivity and lower benefit bills.

“This new briefing aims to make it easier for councillors and local authority staff to judge which public health actions are most effective for improving the health of their communities while also providing the best value for money. The briefing highlights how addressing different health issues can benefit local communities, along with examples of good practice and quick facts and figures to make a case for action.

“We hope that this practical advice will help local government as it tackles its new public health responsibilities, by showing clearly that prevention is better, and also cheaper, than cure.”