David Stout, NHS Confed Chief Executive, said trusts need to be honest about the financial challenges they are facing to help patients understand why certain treatments approved by NICE are not prescribed.
He was responding to comments made by NICE chair Sir Michael Rawlins who claimed that patients should take trusts to court if they were being denied recommended medicines.
Mr Stout agreed that trusts should be providing treatments to patients they are “legally entitled to”. But he added that “every NHS organisation has a finite amount of money available” and that funding for new treatments means “fewer resources for other treatments”.
“NHS organisations are faced with the difficult challenge of achieving the best outcomes and highest quality care for patients while balancing their budgets,” he said.
“The issue raised by Sir Michael Rawlins leads us on to the wider debate that we need to have about the fact that the NHS is facing an unprecedented financial challenge. All NHS organisations are facing budgetary pressures while striving to maintain high quality care.
“We need to be open and honest with the public about what the consequences of this financial challenge are, and the fact that trade-offs will be required if we are to improve standards of care while keeping the NHS affordable.”