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NICE public health quality standards announced

NICE is to develop over 70 new public health quality standards on topics ranging from antibiotic prescribing to domestic violence, following the latest topic referral from the Department of Health.

NICE quality standards describe high-priority areas for quality improvement in a defined care or service area. They are derived either from NICE guidance or NICE accredited sources, and apply right across the NHS, social care and public health in England.

In May 2013, NICE's quality standards programme was expanded to cover public health with the first topic on smoking cessation published in August 2013. Four other public health quality standards covering obesity in children, preventing harmful alcohol use, smoking harm reduction and reducing tobacco use are currently in development.

Under the latest referrals, NICE will develop further standards and associated guidelines to tackle the areas of growing burden on public health, such as antibiotic resistance. NICE will develop a quality standard on antibiotic prescribing to help tackle the rise in antibiotic resistance by reducing inappropriate prescribing.

The Department of Health has warned that there are few public health issues of greater importance than antibiotic resistance. Earlier this year, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies said that antimicrobial resistance poses a “catastrophic threat” to the health of the nation.

Other topics referred to NICE include healthcare associated infections, oral health, skin cancer, infectious diseases like hepatitis C and flu, sexual health, and domestic violence.

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE, said: “These new quality standards will help people working in public health, health and social care to make decisions based on the latest evidence and best practice.

“They will help providers assess their services and, where necessary, drive up their standards - across a wide range of public health challenges from infections linked to healthcare through to tackling domestic violence.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said: “NICE's development of quality standards for public health is an invaluable programme of work which has great practical value for those in the front line. Most importantly, it will help improve standards and embed consistency across the system. This, in turn, helps Public Health England in its work with partners.”