What should the balance be between getting the most out of every pound available whilst ensuring that resources are distributed fairly among members of the community? Pinpointing the social values which influence decisions on how health and social care resources are allocated is what NICE is asking its Citizens Council to examine at its next meeting, in Manchester on 8 and 9 May 2014.
The Citizens Council of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is a group of 30 members of the general public which provides public input into the Institute’s work. The Council’s views on the social values which affect a range of health and social care matters help inform NICE in developing its national guidance and standards.
At the meeting, the Citizens Council will hear evidence from speakers covering all aspects of the topic, before taking part in thorough discussions to look at the issues in detail. The outputs of the meeting will inform the update of the NICE social value judgements document, which covers the judgements that NICE and its advisory bodies should apply when making decisions about the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of interventions, especially where such decisions affect the allocation of resources.
Professor David Haslam CBE, Chairman of NICE, said: “At this meeting, the Citizens Council will be asked to consider the question: ‘What are the social values that need to be considered when making decisions about trade-offs between equity and efficiency?’
“Efficiency focuses on getting the maximum benefit in terms of overall population health and wellbeing for the money spent. So for example a council may have funds available to open a playgroup for all children under 4 years old. However this may disadvantage disabled children because they cannot make use of those facilities. Funding a specialist respite day care centre for disabled children who are most disadvantaged and have no other alternatives may be more equitable, but it may mean that the same money is not able to help as many people. The social values which may influence how the public would decide where the balance lies between these situations is what we want to gather from the Citizens Council. The Council makes an important contribution to NICE’s work by providing a snapshot of what the general public thinks about a range of issues where people might have widely differing opinions.
“NICE is integrating how it develops health and social care guidance and standards, so we want the public’s views on what social values are similar for both areas, but also where those values may differ. So we look forward to hearing the Citizens Council’s views on the complex social issue of which values they take into consideration when thinking about how resources might be used in health care, public health and social care. This will provide insights into the public’s viewpoint for our independent advisory committees to take into account when they develop guidance and standards in these areas.”
A report on the Council’s views will be available on the NICE website for public comment, before the Council submits a report to the Board of NICE setting out its findings.