NICE names Gizbert as comms director

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has appointed a new director of communications from the Medical Research Council.

Jane Gizbert will join the drug-rationing body in mid-September and oversee a team of 56. She is currently head of corporate comms at the Medical Research Council, a publicly funded organisation dedicated to improving human health.

She has previously worked as the Scout Association's director of communications.

Gizbert replaces Louise Fish, who left NICE in April after seven years to join Hanover Communications as an associate director.

The announcement has come in a busy week for NICE's comms unit.

Health minister Lord Darzi this week set out his plans for the next 10 years of the NHS in England. His review stated that an NHS draft constitution, out for consultation, would set out rights and responsibilities of NHS patients, staff and providers.

One right will be access to any appropriate drugs approved by NICE. The review also stated that NICE's appraisals of new drugs and treatments will be speeded up so they take a maximum of six months.

Since 1999, NICE has led the way in measuring the cost-effectiveness of new treatments and deciding which ones are worth using on the National Health Service.

Its actions are closely watched by the governments of other countries and by medical insurers.

The organisation plays a key role in rationing healthcare, but its decisions have often proved controversial. Many drugmakers see NICE as a barrier to medicines that have already been proved safe, effective and of good quality.

NICE recently also appointed a new associate director of external comms. Philip Ranson was promoted from his role as comms manager to replace Lucy Betterton, who is on maternity leave.

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