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National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

What NICE

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom. It is an independent organisation, set up by the Government in 1999 and on 1 April 2005 joined with the Health Development Agency to become the new National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

NICE Clinical Guidelines

  • Provide recommendations for the treatment and care of people by health professionals

  • Are used to develop standards to assess the clinical practice of individual health professionals

  • Are used in the education and training of health professionals

  • Help patients to make informed decisions

  • Improve communication between patient and health professional

Criticism

NICE is often associated with controversy, because the need to make decisions at a national level can conflict with what is in the best interests of an individual patient. The institute’s approach to the introduction of new oral therapy for Hepatitis C has been criticised. Approved cancer drugs and treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy are funded by the NHS without any financial contribution being taken from the patient. Where NICE has approved a treatment, the NHS must fund it.

What NICE does

NICE’s main responsibilities are to

  • Assess new drugs and treatments as they become available

  • Provide evidence based guidelines on how particular conditions should be treated

  • Provide guidelines on how public health and social care services can best support people

  • Provide information services for those managing and providing health and social care

NICE considers whether a treatment

  1. Benefits patients

  2. Will help the NHS meet its targets, for example by improving cancer survival rates

  3. Is value for money or cost effective

When making decisions, NICE asks for expert advice from

  • Medical and other health professionals

  • Patients, carers and people using social care services

  • Patient and carer support organisations

  • Drug companies

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